McDonald’s and Starbucks have announced a suspension of operations in Russia following that country’s unprovoked attack on neighboring Ukraine that has resulted in thousands killed and the largest refugee crisis to hit Europe since the second world war.
Reports in recent days questioned why McDonald’s, which owns and operates 85 percent of its locations in Russia, had not yet joined other U.S. and European-based companies in shutting down its operations in the country.
The fast-food giant, which employs 62,000 people in Russia, announced yesterday its decision to temporarily cease operations in the country. The company is continuing to pay the salaries of its employees in the Ukraine and has donated $5 million to its Employee Assistance Fund.
McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski wrote in an email yesterday to employees and franchisees that the company has a 66-year history in Russia and that its stakeholders in the country include vendors and the millions of customers it serves every day.
“At the same time, our values mean we cannot ignore the needless human suffering unfolding in Ukraine,” he wrote. “Years ago, when confronted with his own difficult decision, Fred Turner (former CEO and chairman) explained his approach quite simply: ‘Do the right thing.’ That philosophy is enshrined as one of our five guiding values, and there are countless examples over the years of McDonald’s Corporation living up to Fred’s simple ideal.”
Starbucks, which is primarily franchised in Russia, made the decision to suspend its operations, as well.
CEO Kevin Johnson, who last week condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine, wrote that it would not ship products to stores displaying its banner in the country. “Our licensed partner has agreed to immediately pause store operations and will provide support to the nearly 2,000 partners in Russia who depend on Starbucks for their livelihood.”
One retailer that has stood out for its decision to remain operating in Russia is Fast Retailing, parent company of Uniqlo. Calls for a boycott against the chain have grown in recent days, Fortune reports, after Fast Retailing CEO explained the decision to remain open in Russia.
“Clothing is a necessity of life,” said CEO Tadashi Yanai. “The people of Russia have the same right to live as we do.”
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