McDonald’s said it has started the process of selling its Russian business, which includes 850 restaurants that employ 62,000 people, making it the latest major western corporation to exit Russia since it invaded Ukraine in February.
The fast food giant pointed to the humanitarian crisis caused by the war, saying holding on to its business in Russia “is no longer tenable, nor is it consistent with McDonald’s values”.
The Chicago-based company announced in early March that it was temporarily closing its stores in Russia but would continue to pay employees.
On Monday, it said it would seek to have a Russian buyer hire those workers and pay them until the sale closes.
It did not identify a prospective buyer.
Chief executive Chris Kempczinski said the “dedication and loyalty to McDonald’s” of employees and hundreds of Russian suppliers made it a difficult decision to leave.
“However, we have a commitment to our global community and must remain steadfast in our values,” Mr Kempczinski said in a statement, “and our commitment to our values means that we can no longer keep the arches shining there.”
As it tries to sell its restaurants, McDonald’s said it plans to start removing golden arches and other symbols and signs with the company’s name.
It said it will keep its trademarks in Russia.
The first McDonald’s in Russia opened in the middle of Moscow more than three decades ago, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
It was a powerful symbol of the easing of Cold War tensions between the United States and Soviet Union.
McDonald’s was the first American fast food restaurant to open in the Soviet Union, which would collapse in 1991.
McDonald’s decision to leave comes as other American food and beverage giants including Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Starbucks have paused or closed operations in Russia in the face of western sanctions.
Corporations from British energy giants Shell and BP to French carmaker Renault have pulled out of Russia, taking a hit to their bottom lines as they seek to sell their holdings there.
Other companies have stayed at least partially, with some facing blowback.
McDonald’s said it expects to record a charge against earnings of between 1.2 billion dollars (£980 million) and 1.4 billion dollars (£1.1 billion) over leaving Russia.
Its restaurants in Ukraine are closed, but the company said it is continuing to pay full salaries for its employees there.
McDonald’s has more than 39,000 locations across more than 100 countries.
Most are owned by franchisees – only about 5% are owned and operated by the company.
McDonald’s said exiting Russia will not change its forecast of adding a net 1,300 restaurants this year, which will contribute about 1.5% to companywide sales growth.
Last month, McDonald’s reported that it earned 1.1 billion dollars (£898 million) in the first quarter, down from more than 1.5 billion dollars (£1.2 billion) a year earlier.
Revenue was nearly 5.7 billion dollars (£4.6 billion).
Welsh food and drink businesses have every reason to celebrate after securing business deals which will see their products available in South Korea.
Wrexham Lager, one of Wales’ most well-known breweries will see its Wrexham Lager Export bottles in supermarkets, bars and restaurants in Seoul in the coming weeks.
Vaughan Roberts, Director of Wrexham Lager is delighted with the recent announcement,
“We are continually looking for ways to grow the business, and this export deal we have secured in South Korea is a massive achievement for the company.
“A full 40ft container carrying 34,560 330ml bottles of our Wrexham Lager Export 5% was loaded and departed Felixstowe, and will arrive in Korea in the next couple of weeks.
“The bottle label is a take on one of the historic labels from the old brewery. It was produced with the Korean customer in mind, and is in Korean font to adhere to Korean law.
“We are thankful for the support that we’ve received in order to conclude this deal. The Welsh Government brought in specialist marketing advisors to offer advice and help with any questions or problems that may arise. I personally would like to thank them for their help and professionalism in securing this deal as well as a big thank you to the Welsh Government for promoting Welsh products and businesses in this way.
“I hope that the Korean public will enjoy our Welsh Lager and that it will lead to further future business.”
Wrexham Lager is a brewery in Wrexham, north-east Wales that has produced alcoholic drinks for more than 120 years. A new hi-tech brewery, run by the Roberts family, opened in 2011 in the heart of Wrexham, after the original one closed in 2000. While the original brewery was demolished in 2002-2003, the historic building in which brewing started still remains. The Roberts family who restarted Wrexham Lager are still using the same ingredients as the original recipe.
Another company to see success in Korea is Cradoc’s Savoury Biscuits, who will see six of their product lines of crackers become available to consumers.
Director of Cradoc’s Allie Thomas said,
“We were able to close this deal following the virtual Trade Development Visit to South Korea which was funded by the Welsh Government in June 2021. We were matched up with interested suppliers and individual virtual meetings took place where we could discuss each other’s requirements. We found a trading partner who saw the quality and potential of our products, and we agreed to work together.
“We supplied specifications with guidance from Project HELIX via Zero2Five Food Industry Centre to deliver the very specific detail required by Korean authorities, including food standards accreditations. This took some time and patience on both sides but once our products had been listed and agreed for consumption in Korea, our partner placed their first order. The first pallet contained four of our products. On receipt of the shipment and as a consequence of market-testing, we received orders for a further two product lines.”
“The Korean Market is large and affluent. It has an appreciation of imported food provision. The population is well educated and keen to try European and World foods. The selection of flavours reflects this. In addition, population increase means that food supply chains are important to the South Korean Government and authorities, along with an interest in creating and strengthening reliable supply chains.”
Anglesey Sea Salt / Halen Môn also received success, selling their products to an export and import company in South Korea which supplies chefs and stores, but also sells on Instagram.
Alison Lea-Wilson, Director of Anglesey Sea Salt / Halen Môn said,
“We are selling to a young dynamic individual. He has embraced our whole company ethic. He asked us for some branded clothing which he wears when he posts on Insta. We have regular meetings on Zoom using an interpreter and email contact.
“To him, it’s very much more than just the product. South Koreans are interested in Welsh and British culture, the way we use salt compared to how they use it, who makes it and how it is presented.
“We are very excited about this new deal. We would like to thank the Welsh Government for all their support in gaining access to these new markets. We love working with such lovely people and embracing a different culture.”
All deals were secured following the businesses’ participation in the Welsh Government’s food and drink export support programme, which saw 15 Welsh food and drink companies take part in a virtual Trade Development Visit (TDV) to South Korea last year.
The virtual TDV programme is intended to support suitable companies which are interested in exporting. It sets them up with carefully selected and matched buyers and distributors in order to develop and strengthen business, trade, and export relationships.
Commenting on the successes, Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, Lesley Griffiths MS said,
“Securing new export markets, as well as maintaining and building on current ones, is crucial for the future prosperity of the Welsh food and drink industry. Our aim is to support Welsh export businesses, both new and experienced, to help them understand the challenges and opportunities and inspire them to make the most of all the possible markets available.
“Our export support programme is available to all food and drink businesses and helps aspiring, new and established exporters. We have assisted many businesses with our Trade Development Programme to different countries and our intention is to take a Welsh delegation in person to Seoul this September.”
A survey conducted with the South Korean buyers following activity via the export support programme predicted overall purchases could exceed £1m, with the success of Wrexham Lager, Cradocs and Halen Môn demonstrating good progress is being made in securing that prediction.
Llandeilo Primary School will be reaching the rafters next week when it becomes the only school in Wales to sing on the Albert Hall platform for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Thirty nine pupils have been selected to join a choir of 2,000 voices from all over the UK to perform on the Queen’s honour at the prestigious London venue next week.
“This is going to be a wonderful learning experience for the children and we know it’s going to provide them with inspiration for their future learning and create memories which will last a lifetime,” said headteacher Karen Towns.
“We’re so proud to represent not only our town and the county of Carmarthenshire but also the country as a whole, as we’re the only school that’s representing Wales.”
The concert, entitled “It Takes A City” will highlight the importance of community, diversity and individuality amongst families across the world, and this echoes Llandeilo school’s philosophy.
Based on the African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child”, this contemporary tale will share the joys and challenges of community living, reminding people that a family is far more than those who live at the family home.
‘It takes a City’ takes place at the Royal Albert Hall next Tuesday, May 24.
Llandeilo itself is no newcomer to memorable music events, the 20th annual Llandeilo Fawr Festival of Music is back on the books this year having been put aside by Covid in the past two years.
This invitation is a wonderful example of what can happen when a small town like Llandeilo achieves artistic prominence by consistently hosting a successful Festival involving schools and other organisations in the town.
Julia Jones, Artistic Director of Llandeilo Fawr Festival of Music said: “We attach great importance to this outreach branch of the Festival and we are extremely grateful, not only to Armonico Consort, for extending the invitation to Llandeilo Primary School, but to the school’s Head and Staff, for their co-operation and support, and to the children, for their aptitude and enthusiasm which deserved the invitation in the first place.”
Arclight Films kicks off worldwide sales this week and has released an exclusive first image from the thriller PokerFace directed by and starring Russell Crowe alongside Liam Hemsworth.
Crowe plays a billionaire gambler who offers his best friends the chance to win more money than they have ever dreamed of. However, in return, they will have to give up the secrets they have spent their lives protecting and will learn the true nature of what is at stake.
Elsa Pataky and Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA round out the key cast on the Hamilton Entertainment production, which shot in New South Wales, Australia, and is in post-production. Crowe co-wrote the screenplay with Stephen M. Coates.
Poker Face marks the second directorial outing for Gladiator star Crowe after The Water Diviner, which won the Australian Academy award for best film in 2015. Hemsworth’s credits include The Hunger Games franchise and Quibi series Most Dangerous Game.
Arclight’s Gary Hamilton produces with Keith Rodger, Ying Ye, and Ryan Hamilton alongside Addam Bramich, Catchlight Studios’ Jeanette Volturno and Jason Clark and Matt Williams.
Executive producers are Arclight Films’ Brian Beckmann, Walter Josten, Joe Thomas, Mikael Borglund, Romilda De Luca and Alceon Entertainment Partners alongside Julia Stuart and Laura Grange from Sky.
PokerFace is financed by MEP Capital, Alceon Entertainment Partners, Sky and Australian funding entities through the New South Wales government’s Screen NSW Made in NSW fund. Co-producer Sky will release Poker Face as a Sky Original in the UK and Germany.
Arclight Films’ slate includes The Portable Door starring Christoph Waltz and Sam Neill; thriller The Locksmith with Ryan Phillippe, Kate Bosworth and Ving Rhames; and dark comedy BigGold Brick starring Andy Garcia, Emory Cohen, Megan Fox and Oscar Isaac.
Star Entertainment’s executive ranks continue to thin out, as New South Wales investigates its business practices. Two board members resigned, adding their names to the list that includes the casino operator’s former CEO.
As Crown Resorts’ world came crumbling down, the company lost a number of high-ranking executives and board members. At that point, the writing was on the wall for the fate of Star Entertainment’s leadership. As New South Wales (NSW) launched its investigation into how egregiously the casino operator mismanaged itself, it was obvious that executive-level changes were coming.
When Matt Bekier stepped down as Star’s CEO, board chairman John O’Neill grabbed the seat. He promised that changes were coming, and he was right. Last week, three executives resigned from the company. Friday, two non-executive members of the board, Sally Pitkin and Gerard Bradley, joined them.
Star Faces Executive Rejig
By the time Crown’s hearings across Australia were complete, virtually none of its former executives or board members remained. Only one of the 11 sitting directors remained when the dust settled. A similar situation could play out with Star.
Pitkin and Bradley are going to leave in the coming months, but at different times, according to a company filing with the Australian Securities Exchange. The filing added that additional changes are coming.
At the same time, a new member of the board is waiting in the wings. Michael Issenberg, the head of Tourism Australia, is waiting to join, provided regulators approve his appointment. Star requested the appointment this past February.
By the time regulators and authorities are done with Star, none of the original board, including O’Neill, may remain. An unidentified source told Inside Asian Gaming last month that Star “made a mistake” appointing him.
Additional Delays in NSW Inquiry
NSW is milking the inquiry for everything it can. A handful of executives – at least a half-dozen – have already acknowledged that there were major missteps in the company’s approach to anti-money-laundering protocols and junket operations, among others.
The state announced in April that it needed more time to complete its inquiry, and that the results would be ready by the end of the summer. However, a new delay arose this morning.
O’Neill was on the schedule to appear for questioning today. However, NSW postponed the hearing until tomorrow, and then changed it again to May 23, according to The New Daily. No one provided an explanation for the delay.
The chairman/acting CEO is the last person on the list of subjects, along with Star director Richard Sheppard, whom NSW wants to grill. Postponing the hearing a day is not a surprise. However, postponing it a week likely means that there’s something going on behind the scenes.
With all of the information NSW already has, it’s likely that the delay won’t substantially change the time line. O’Neill will acknowledge that there have been mistakes, and that the company is implementing procedures, personnel changes, and policies to correct them. After that, the inquiry will likely still end on time.