McDonald’s, Starbucks, Coke, others cease operation in Russia responding to Ukraine invasion
The US beverage giants PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, along with fast food major McDonald’s and coffeehouse chain Starbucks have announced that they were temporarily suspending their business in Russia in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Burger King also said it is redirecting the profits from its 800 Russian stores to relief efforts.
Amid the Russia-Ukraine crisis, many corporations have ceased operations in Russia in protest. Among them is consumer goods conglomerate Unilever, which on Tuesday said it 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.
“Our values mean we cannot ignore the needless human suffering unfolding in Ukraine,” McDonald’s President and CEO Chris Kempczinski said in an open letter to employees.
The Chicago-based food company said it will temporarily close 850 stores but continue paying its 62,000 employees in Russia “who have poured their heart and soul into our McDonald’s brand”. Kempczinski said it’s impossible to know when the company will be able to reopen its stores.
“The situation is extraordinarily challenging for a global brand like ours, and there are many considerations,” Kempczinski wrote in the letter. McDonald’s works with hundreds of Russian suppliers, for example, and serves millions of customers each day.
Last Friday, Starbucks had said that it was donating profits from its 130 Russian stores — owned and operated by Kuwait-based franchisee Alshaya Group — to humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine. But on Tuesday, the company changed course and said it would temporarily close those stores.
Alshaya Group will continue to pay Starbucks’ 2,000 Russian employees, Starbucks President and CEO Kevin Johnson said in an open letter to employees.
“Through this dynamic situation, we will continue to make decisions that are true to our mission and values and communicate with transparency,” Johnson wrote.
Coca-Cola Co. announced it was suspending its business in Russia, but it offered few details. Coke’s partner, Switzerland-based Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Co., owns 10 bottling plants in Russia, which is its largest market. Coke has a 21 percent stake in Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Co.
PepsiCo and General Electric both announced partial shutdowns of their Russian business. Pepsi, based in Purchase, New York, said it will suspend sales of beverages in Russia. It will also suspend any capital investments and promotional activities.
Pressure had been mounting on companies that remained in the country. Hashtags to boycott companies like McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo quickly emerged on social media.
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