Update: McDonald's, facing pressure including calls on social media for a boycott, says it is temporarily shutting down its operations in Russia. The company "has decided to temporarily close all our restaurants in Russia and pause all operations in the market," CEO Chris Kempczinski said in a statement Tuesday, per CNN. McDonald's has around 850 restaurants in the country and unlike in most other markets, more than 80% are owned by the company, not franchisees. Kempczinski said that while McDonald's has become an "essential part" of hundreds of communities in Russia, "at the same time, our values mean we cannot ignore the needless human suffering unfolding in Ukraine." It's a conclusion numerous other brands reached earlier. Our story from Sunday follows:
The financial pressure on Russia increased again on Saturday as Visa and Mastercard announced they were suspending operations in the country, reports the BBC. Mastercard called Russia's invasion "shocking and devastating," while Visa saw it as an "ongoing threat to peace and stability." They join a slew of other big companies, including Apple and Nike, that have stopped doing in business in Russia, though some notable outliers remain—including Pepsi and McDonald's. The Washington Post reports that both are facing pressure on social media, with hashtags such as #BoycottMcDonalds in play. Neither company has issued a statement about the conflict.
The pressure goes beyond Twitter, however. New York state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli sent letters to Pepsi, McDonald's, and others including Estee Lauder and Mondelez International warning them of “significant and growing legal, compliance, operational, human rights and personnel, and reputational risks," per Reuters. DiNapoli oversees the powerful New York pension fund, which invests in the companies. The New York Times points out a complication for chains such as Starbucks, Papa John's, and Yum Brands (think KFC and Pizza Hut)—many individual restaurants are owned by franchisees, not the companies themselves. And many of those franchisees are tight with the Kremlin. McDonald's, however, owns most of its 800-plus restaurants in Russia. (Read more Russia-Ukraine war stories.)