CHICAGO (AP) — McDonald’s will begin reopening some of its restaurants in Ukraine in the coming months, a sign of the war-torn country’s partial return to normalcy and a show of support after the U.S. fast-food chain pulled out of Russia..
The burger company closed its Ukrainian restaurants after the Russian invasion Almost six months ago, but more than 10,000 McDonald’s workers in the country have continued to be paid.
McDonald’s said on Thursday it would gradually begin reopening some restaurants in the capital Kiev and western Ukraine, where other companies are doing business away from the fighting. Western businesses such as Nike, KFC and Spanish clothing retailer Mango have opened in Kyiv.
“We have spoken extensively with our employees who have expressed a strong desire to return to work and see our restaurants in Ukraine reopen,” Paul Pomroy, corporate senior vice president of international operated markets, said in a message to employees. “In recent months, the belief that this supports a small but important sense of normalcy has grown stronger.”
The Ukrainian economy has been hit hard by the war and restarting businesses, even at reduced capacity, will help. The International Monetary Fund expects Ukraine’s economy to shrink by 35% this year.
McDonald’s has 109 restaurants in Ukraine, but has not said how many will reopen, when that will happen or which locations will welcome customers first. In the next few months, the company said it plans to work with vendors to get supplies to restaurants, prepare those stores, bring back employees and begin safety procedures as war still rages in the east.
McDonald’s has sold 850 of its restaurants in Russia to a franchisee, while starting to reopen in Ukraine. Three decades after McDonald’s opened its first location in Moscow, it became a powerful symbol of easing Cold War tensions..
McDonald’s closed hundreds of Russian locations in March, costing the company about $55 million per month. The sale of its Russian restaurants marks the company’s first exit from a “t-arch,” or large, market.
Alexander Kovar, who holds the license for 25 McDonald’s outposts in Siberia, has begun reopening former McDonald’s locations. In the name of Vkusno-i Tochka, or Delicious Period.
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