The Chicago burger giant said its current licensee, Alexander Govor, who operates 25 restaurants in Siberia, has agreed to buy 850 Russian restaurants from McDonald’s and operate them under a new name.
McDonald’s began selling its restaurants in Russia 30 years after the burger chain became a powerful symbol of the easing of Cold War tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union.
The Chicago burger giant said its current licensee, Alexander Govor, who operates 25 restaurants in Siberia, has agreed to buy 850 Russian restaurants from McDonald’s and operate them under a new name. McDonald’s did not disclose the terms of the sale.
McDonald’s was one of the first Western consumer brands to enter Russia in 1990. Its large, gleaming store near Moscow’s Pushkin Square ushered in a new era of post-Cold War optimism shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The company closed its Russian facilities in March due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a decision the company says cost it $55 million a month. On Monday, McDonald’s announced that it would sell those stores and leave Russia.
It is the first time that the company has “disarmed” or exited a major market. He plans to start removing the golden arches and other symbols and signs bearing the company’s name. McDonald’s said it will also keep its trademarks in Russia and take steps to enforce them if necessary.
The sale announced Thursday is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close within a few weeks, McDonald’s said.
Govor, a license holder since 2015, also agreed to retain McDonald’s 62,000 Russian employees for at least two years on equivalent terms. Govor also agreed to pay the salaries of McDonald’s corporate employees until the sale closes.
McDonald’s left open the possibility that one day it could return to Russia.
“It is impossible to predict what the future will hold, but I choose to end my message in the same spirit that brought McDonald’s to Russia in the first place: hope,” CEO Chris Kempczinski wrote in a letter to employees Monday. “So let’s not end up saying ‘goodbye.’ Instead, let’s say it like they do in Russian: until we meet again.”