McDonald’s will start reopening some of its restaurants in Ukraine in the coming months, in a show of support after the American fast-food chain pulled out of Russia.
The burger giant closed its Ukrainian restaurants after Russia’s invasion nearly six months ago but has continued to pay more than 10,000 McDonald’s employees in the country.
McDonald’s said on Thursday that it would begin gradually reopening some restaurants in western Ukraine and the capital, Kyiv, where other American businesses including Nike and KFC, and Spanish clothing retailer Mango are open.
“We’ve spoken extensively to 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 markets, said in a message to staff. “In recent months, the belief that this would support a small but important sense of normalcy has grown stronger.”
The Ukrainian economy has been severely damaged by the war, with the International Monetary Fund expecting the economy to shrink by 35% this year.
McDonald’s has 109 restaurants in Ukraine, but didn’t say how many would reopen, when that would happen or which locations would be the first to welcome back customers. Over the next few months, the company said it would start working with vendors to get supplies into restaurants, prepare stores, bring back employees and launch safety procedures, with the war still raging to the east.
While it will start to reopen in Ukraine, McDonald’s has sold its 850 restaurants in Russia to a franchise owner, three decades after the company opened its first location in Moscow in a powerful symbol of easing cold war tensions.
McDonald’s shuttered hundreds of Russian locations in March, costing the company about $55m (£45m) each month. Selling its Russian restaurants was the first time the company had exited a large market.
Alexander Govor, who held a license for 25 McDonald’s outposts in Siberia, has begun reopening former McDonald’s locations under the name Vkusno-i Tochka, or Tasty and that’s it.