McDonald’s has announced that it will start reopening some of its restaurants in Ukraine in the coming months.
The fast food giant said on Thursday that some restaurants will gradually reopen in the capital, Kyiv, and western Ukraine.
McDonald’s closed its Ukrainian restaurants after Russia’s invasion nearly six months ago but has continued to pay more than 10,000 employees in the country.
The latest news is a symbol of the war-torn country’s return to some sense of normalcy and a show of support after McDonald’s pulled out of Russia.
Other Western companies like Nike, KFC and Spanish clothing retailer Mango are already doing business in western Ukraine, away from the fighting.
“We’ve spoken extensively to our employees who have expressed a strong desire to return to work and see our restaurants in Ukraine reopen,” said Paul Pomroy, corporate senior vice president of international operated markets.
“In recent months, the belief that this would support a small but important sense of normalcy has grown stronger,” he said in a message to employees
The Ukrainian economy has been severely damaged by the war and restarting businesses, even in a limited capacity, would help. The International Monetary Fund expects Ukraine’s economy to shrink by 35% this year.
McDonald’s has 109 restaurants in Ukraine but has not said 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 says it will start working with vendors to get supplies into restaurants, prepare those stores, bring back employees and launch safety procedures with the war still raging to the east.
Meanwhile, McDonald’s has sold its 850 restaurants in Russia to a franchise owner, three decades after McDonald’s opened its first location in Moscow as a powerful symbol of easing Cold War tensions.
The company shuttered hundreds of Russian locations in March, at a cost of around $55 million per month. Selling its Russian restaurants was the first time the company has “de-arched,” or exited a major 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-fullstop.