Consumer giants including McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Starbucks have joined the list of companies that have halted operations in Russia due to the invasion in Ukraine.
McDonald’s said it was temporarily closing its roughly 850 restaurants in Russia, while Starbucks also said its 100 cafes would close.
On Wednesday, Heineken halted beer production and sales in Russia.
And Mothercare said all business in Russia, which accounts for 20–25% of its global sales, had been halted.
The actions by McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Starbucks come after growing pressure on companies to act during the war in Ukraine. All three companies said they would continue to pay their staff.
Anna MacDonald, fund manager at Amati Global Investors, told the BBC Radio 4 Today program that companies joining the wave of companies leaving Russia were doing so because “shareholders and wider stakeholders would not support the continued generation of revenue and profit”. from the country,
“It was affecting their stock price and the feeling was that it was just inappropriate to continue doing that,” she said.
McDonald’s established its presence in Moscow in 1990 as the Soviet Union opened up its economy and attracted thousands of people for its burgers and fries. Its closure now carries a similar symbolic weight, and could influence other businesses.
However, fast-food chain rival Burger King is currently keeping its Russian stores open. He pledged $3m (£2.3m) to support refugees from Ukraine and said people feeling like European nations could get free Whopper meal vouchers.
Restaurant Brands International, owner of Burger King, said it would redirect profits from more than 800 franchise operations in Russia to humanitarian efforts.
McDonald’s chief executive Chris Kempczinski said it was “impossible to predict” when it would reopen in Russia.
McDonalds also temporarily closed its 108 restaurants in Ukraine.
Collectively, countries represent approximately 9% of company revenue and approximately 2% of global sales.
Companies have come under pressure to act as Russian violence against civilians escalates.
Both #BoycottMcDonalds and #BoycottCocaCola have been trending on Twitter for the past few days.
Dozens of well-known companies, including Netflix and Levi’s, have already suspended sales or stopped providing services in Russia amid tough sanctions imposed by Western allies.
Coca-Cola announced on Tuesday that it was suspending its operations in Russia, which accounted for about 2% of the company’s revenue and operating income. It also has an approximate 20% stake in a bottling and distribution business in Russia.
“Our hearts go out to those who are experiencing the unconscionable effects of these tragic events in Ukraine,” the company said.
Pepsi, which has a much larger presence in Russia than rival Coca-Cola, said it was halting production and sales of Pepsi and other global brands in Russia and suspending capital investment and advertising, citing “horrible events” in Ukraine.