McDonald’s and Starbucks temporarily close doors in Russia, while others face boycott threats for not halting operations | World News

McDonald’s and Starbucks have said they will temporarily close all of their outlets in Russia in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The firms, along with several other global companies, had been facing threats of boycotts for failing to pull out of Russia in protest at the war.

McDonald’s has said all 850 of its restaurants in the nation will close their doors – but it will continue to pay the 62,000 people who work for them there.

McDonald’s owns 84% of its restaurants in Russia, and they contributed 9% of the company’s revenue last year.

Pic: Sipa/Shutterstock
Opening of the first McDonald’s restaurant in Russia – in Moscow in 1990. Pic: Sipa/Shutterstock

In a letter to employees, the company’s president and CEO Chris Kempckinski said closing the outlets is the right thing to do because they cannot ignore the “needless human suffering in Ukraine”.

Just hours later, Starbucks announced it was “suspending all business activity in Russia, including shipment of its products and cafes run by a licensee”.

The company said Kuwait-based Alshaya Group, which operates at least 100 Starbucks cafes in Russia, will “provide
support to the nearly 2,000 partners who depend on Starbucks for their livelihood”.

Starbucks cups
Starbucks will close its Russia outlets

Major technology firms like Apple, Microsoft and Samsung, and businesses including Visa, Paypal and Netflix have shuttered operations or cut ties with Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

But several food and drink firms such as KFC, Burger King, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have been criticised for staying largely silent about the war and have been under increasing pressure from social media users and leading figures to pull their business from the country.

McDonald’s was among those under pressure.

New York state’s pension fund – a shareholder in Coca-Cola and PepsiCo – has urged them and others to consider their operations there.

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The letters from New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli urged companies to review their businesses in Russia because they face “significant and growing legal, compliance, operational, human rights and personnel, and reputational risks”.

Pausing or ending operations in Russia “would address various investment risks associated with the Russian market and play an important role in condemning Russia’s role in fundamentally undermining the international order that is vital to a strong and healthy global economy”, the letter said.

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Dragon’s Den investor Deborah Meaden also spoke out on social media against Coca-Cola, urging people to stop drinking it.

Many of the companies coming under fire have hundreds of locations in Russia.

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo operate large bottling plants in the country.

Russian state-owned news agency TASS reported last week that Coca-Cola “continues its operations in Russia”.

“All operational, production, and logistics facilities of Coca-Cola in Russia are working. We are fully responsible to partners, society, and thousands of our employees in Russia. Our top priority is the safety of our employees,” it quoted the company as saying.

Coca-Cola announced last week it would be donating €1m (£829,700) to support the Red Cross in Ukraine and a further €550,000 (£456,000) to support refugees in neighbouring countries.

In a statement on Thursday on its website, Coca-Cola said everyone at the firm has been following the news from Ukraine “with heavy hearts” and the company will “continue to monitor the situation closely”.

It continued: “Our focus is on our people and supporting humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine and the region. Our actions are coordinated with our bottling partner, Coca-Cola HBC. Together, our priority is the safety and wellbeing of our employees and their families. We remain in constant contact and are doing everything we can to support them and our communities.”

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KFC in August 2021 hailed the opening of its 1,000th restaurant there, and as of 31 December last year.

KFC and McDonald’s had already temporarily closed their restaurants across Ukraine and have been helping to feed soldiers and civilians on the ground, according to a report by The Kyiv Independent last week. McDonald’s is said to have donated food, water, vegetables and fruit to local authorities for distribution, while KFC reportedly opened its kitchens to prepare meals.

Burger King owner, American-Canadian Restaurant Brands International, which has around 550 locations in Russia, expressed concern about the impact of the war on its business in its recent annual report: “The conflict between Russia and Ukraine could adversely impact economic conditions and demand for dining out as well as result in heightened economic sanctions from the US, Canada and other countries in a manner that may adversely affect us and our franchisee’s restaurants located in Russia and Eastern Europe.”

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Several Ukrainian supermarket chains including Novus have announced they would be boycotting Coca-Cola products.

In a Facebook post, Novus said: “Our supermarket chain no longer cooperates with the Coca-Cola company, which continues to operate in the territory of the aggressor.”

In a statement on its website the Ukrainian Retailers Association also called on other groups to join the boycott.

“It is incomprehensible and surprising the position taken by some international companies, which, despite the sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union, decided to continue to operate their enterprises in the aggressor state,” said chairman Andriy Zhuk.

Sky News has contacted KFC, PepsiCo and Burger King for comment.

Meanwhile, Unilever has suspended all imports and exports of its products into and out of Russia, and that it will not invest any further capital into the country.

The company condemned the war in Ukraine as “a brutal and senseless act by the Russian state”.

It said it will continue to supply everyday essential food and hygiene products that are made in Russia to people there, but will keep that under review.






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