After more than three decades in Russia, McDonald’s has put its Russia business up for sale as it works to leave the country completely.
The move is a significant departure for a brand whose growth across the world became the symbol of globalism and even the basis of a peace theory. As global aspirations have fractured in recent years amid the coronavirus pandemic and geopolitical tensions, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has forced many companies that hoped to operate as normal to take action.
Under growing employee and consumer pressure, brands and restaurant chains have partly — or fully — paused their operations in Russia. But few have left entirely because of concerns over the welfare of employees and the difficulties of re-entering after a departure.
McDonald’s, which employs 62,000 people in Russia, said in March that it would temporarily close its operations there, as did several other chains, including Starbucks and Yum Brands, the parent company of KFC and Pizza Hut. Many employees and activists have pushed for a full retrenchment.
“This is a complicated issue that’s without precedent and with profound consequences,” Chris Kempczinski, the chief executive of McDonald’s, wrote in a message to franchises, employees and suppliers that was obtained by The New York Times.
He added: “Some might argue that providing access to food and continuing to employ tens of thousands of ordinary citizens is surely the right thing to do. But it is impossible to ignore the humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine. And it is impossible to imagine the Golden Arches representing the same hope and promise that led us to enter the Russian market 32 years ago.”