More Major Brands Join Exodus Out of Russia

Pepsi. Coca-Cola, Starbucks, GE are suspending businesses
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 8, 2022 8:46 PM CST
Updated Mar 9, 2022 12:17 AM CST
More Major Brands Join Exodus Out of Russia
"Our values mean we cannot ignore the needless human suffering unfolding in Ukraine," said McDonald's President and CEO Chris Kempczinski   (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

McDonald's, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and General Electric—ubiquitous global brands and symbols of US corporate might—all announced Tuesday they were temporarily suspending their business in Russia in response to the country's invasion of Ukraine. McDonald's said it will temporarily close 850 stores but keep paying its 62,000 employees in Russia. Last Friday, Starbucks had said that it was donating profits from its 130 Russian stores—owned and operated by Kuwait-based franchisee Alshaya Group—to humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine. But on Tuesday, the company changed course and said it would temporarily close those stores, the AP reports. Alshaya Group will continue to pay Starbucks' 2,000 Russian employees, Starbucks President and CEO Kevin Johnson said.

Coca-Cola Co. announced it was suspending its business in Russia, but it offered few details. Coke's partner, Switzerland-based Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Co., owns 10 bottling plants in Russia, which is its largest market. PepsiCo and General Electric both announced partial shutdowns of their Russian business. Pepsi said it will suspend sales of beverages in Russia. It will also suspend any capital investments and promotional activities. But the company said it will continue to produce milk, baby formula, and baby food, in part to continue supporting its 20,000 Russian employees and the 40,000 Russian agricultural workers who are part of its supply chain. "Now more than ever we must stay true to the humanitarian aspect of our business," PepsiCo CEO Ramon Laguarta said in an email to employees.

General Electric also said in a Twitter post that it was partially suspending its operations in Russia. GE said two exceptions would be essential medical equipment and support for existing power services in Russia. Yum Brands, the parent company of KFC and Pizza Hut, said late Tuesday it planned to temporarily close 70 KFC restaurants in Russia. The company said it was also in talks with a franchisee to close all 50 Pizza Hut restaurants in Russia. It had announced Monday that it was donating all of the profits from its 1,050 restaurants in Russia to humanitarian efforts. Burger King said it is redirecting the profits from its 800 Russian stores to relief efforts and donating $2 million in food vouchers to Ukrainian refugees.

(Read more Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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