McDonald’s will begin reopening some of its restaurants in Ukraine in the coming months, a symbol of the war-torn country’s return to normalcy and a sign of support after the US fast-food chain pulled out of Russia.
The burger giant closed its Ukrainian restaurants after the Russian invasion nearly six months ago, but continued to pay more than 10,000 McDonald’s employees in the country.
McDonald’s said on Thursday it would start to gradually reopen some restaurants in the capital, Kyiv, and in western Ukraine, where other businesses are doing business away from the fighting. Western companies like Nike, KFC and Spanish clothing retailer Mango are open in Kyiv.
“We have spoken extensively to our employees who have expressed a strong desire to return to work and see our restaurants in Ukraine reopen,” said Paul Pomroy, senior vice president of international markets, in a message to employees. “In recent months, the belief that this would support a small but important sense of normalcy has grown stronger.”
Ukraine’s economy has been badly damaged by the war and restarting businesses, even in limited capacity, would help. The International Monetary Fund expects the Ukrainian economy to contract by 35% this year.
McDonald’s has 109 restaurants in Ukraine, but did not say how many would reopen, when that would happen or which locations would be the first to welcome customers. Over the next few months, the company said it will begin working with suppliers to stock restaurants, prepare those stores, bring back employees and initiate security procedures as war still rages in the east.
As it begins to reopen in Ukraine, McDonald’s has sold its 850 restaurants in Russia to a franchise owner. It came three decades after McDonald’s opened its first location in Moscow, becoming a powerful symbol of the easing of Cold War tensions.
McDonald’s had closed hundreds of Russian locations in March, costing the company about $55 million a month. The sale of its Russian restaurants was the company’s first time “divesting” or exiting a major market.
Alexander Govor, who held a license for 25 McDonald’s outposts in Siberia, began reopening old McDonald’s locations as Vkusno-i Tochka, or Tasty-period.