After three shining decades, the golden arches in Russia will begin to go dark.
In March, McDonald’s, along with dozens of other American franchises, decided to temporarily close its stores following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Two months later, the brand has decided to pull out altogether after a strong 30-year relationship with Russia.
The company stated that the “humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, and the precipitating unpredictable operating environment, have led McDonald’s to conclude that continued ownership of the business in Russia is no longer tenable, nor is it consistent with McDonald’s values.”
McDonald’s has begun the sale of its restaurants in Russia — all 850 — and said it intends to start the process of “de-arching” the locations, as the storefronts will no longer be able to use the fast food giant’s name and branding.
The fast food giant entered Russia in 1990 as the soon-to-fall Soviet Union opened its doors to Western brands, and the recent decision to exit holds inverted symbolism.
McDonald’s president and chief executive, Chris Kempczinski, said the decision was “extremely difficult” but “our commitment to our values means that we can no longer keep the Arches shining there.”
Until the sales are finalized, McDonald’s said it will continue to pay the 62,000 employees in Russia and that they will have jobs with any of the potential buyers.
The bold decision may mark the beginning of other American brands following McDonald’s lead. Still, it might be more complicated for other franchises that don’t directly own many of their storefronts.
Related: This Is why Burger King Continues to Operate in Russia