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麦当劳离开俄罗斯,一个痛苦和复杂的决定

麦当劳离开俄罗斯,一个痛苦和复杂的决定

GEOFF COLVIN 2022-07-31
该公司花了近三个月的时间进行一场漫长的告别。

2月24日,伦敦时间凌晨4点,麦当劳国际业务总裁伊恩·博登(Ian Borden)在芝加哥给他的老板、首席执行官克里斯·坎普钦斯基(Chris Kempczinski)发了一条紧急消息。

一小时前,弗拉基米尔·普京(Vladimir Putin)宣布俄罗斯将进军乌克兰,对基辅、哈尔科夫、敖德萨和其他地方的攻击已经开始。博登告诉坎普钦斯基,公司在乌克兰的107家餐厅已经关闭,并设立了员工热线。

芝加哥时间是晚上10 点。在那之前,时年53岁的坎普钦斯基一直像其他人一样关注乌克兰局势,并怀疑它会演变成战争。他说:“似乎有一种剑拔弩张的感觉。当然,这不会导致任何形式的入侵。”他回忆道。现在他意识到:“好吧,是的——我们生活在不同的世界。”

在接下来的81天时间里,坎普钦斯基做出了一个影响了数百万人生活的决定。这不是关于乌克兰业务的决定,这是关于俄罗斯的决定:麦当劳是否需要放弃这个拥有853家门店的市场?这个市场既是经济上的利好,也是麦当劳崛起成为历史上最具主导地位的全球品牌之一的有力象征。

作为“去拱门”过程的一部分,工人们于6月从俄罗斯金吉谢普的一家餐厅拆除了麦当劳的招牌。图片来源:Anton Vaganov—Reuters

他知道,无论他做出什么决定,都会产生巨大影响。最直接的是,一个“是留还是走”的电话将影响该公司在俄罗斯的6.2万名员工;几乎所有的俄罗斯餐厅都是公司所有的,而不是特许经营的,所以这些员工大多直接为麦当劳工作。这也会影响公司的财务状况。俄罗斯去年贡献了全球收入的7%,随着销售额从疫情期间的低点继续攀升,这是一笔可观的收入。更广泛地说,坎普钦斯基知道他的决定可能会强化或损害麦当劳的品牌和声誉。该公司前首席执行官因与员工发生不正当关系而被解雇,公司正从尴尬的丑闻中恢复过来,这也为坎普钦斯基做决定增添了压力。这一事件引发了一场关于麦当劳文化和价值观的内部争论,公司员工肯定会从这个角度审视坎普钦斯基的选择。

这一决定具有广泛而深远的象征意义。1990年,俄罗斯第一家麦当劳餐厅的开业是一大全球性新闻事件,金拱门入驻莫斯科预示着俄罗斯向外部世界开放,因为它甚至欢迎这家充满活力和资本主义气息的美国企业。撤离的决定将表明西方正在撤退,而俄罗斯正在逆转,再次转向国内。

2月24日,当坎普钦斯基走进办公室时,处理这些重大问题突然成为他待办事项清单上的头等大事。

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与麦当劳创始人雷·克洛克(Ray Kroc)之后的历任首席执行官不同,坎普钦斯基不是从麦当劳内部提拔上来的。相反,在2015年加入麦当劳之前,他在美国的几所精英教育和企业管理学院——杜克大学、宝洁公司、哈佛商学院、波士顿咨询集团、百事公司、卡夫食品公司——中步步高升。他迅速晋升为麦当劳最大的市场——美国麦当劳的主管,并于2019年出任首席执行官。4个月后,疫情爆发,他带领公司成功度过了一场前所未有的危机。现在他面对的是另一场危机。

首先,他和他的团队延长了乌克兰餐厅的关闭时间,直至另行通知。乌克兰餐厅都是公司所有的。坎普钦斯基说,公司刚刚度过了新冠疫情危机,知道“如何迅速锁定整个市场”。早期没有员工被杀害,但显然没有一个地方是安全的。该公司表示,将继续支付所有乌克兰员工的工资。

更棘手的问题是俄罗斯。其他企业行动迅速,但麦当劳却没有。俄乌冲突爆发后的第一天,达美航空公司宣布暂停与俄罗斯航空公司的联盟。一级方程式赛车取消了俄罗斯大奖赛,欧洲足球协会联盟将冠军联赛决赛从圣彼得堡移至巴黎。一周之内,苹果公司、英国石油公司、宜家、Meta Platforms、奈飞公司、耐克公司、壳牌、大众汽车和其他公司宣布停产、停止销售、关闭门店或采取其他重大行动。麦当劳没有发布任何公告。

在新冠肺炎疫情和俄乌冲突之间,迄今为止,对2019年上任的麦当劳首席执行官克里斯·坎普钦斯基来说,他的任期是多事之秋。图片来源:Mackenzie Stroh for Fortune

数字时代新元素在施加压力,迫使各大公司采取行动。耶鲁大学的非营利性首席执行官领导力研究所发布了一份持续更新的在线名单,列出了已退出和仍留在俄罗斯的公司。由杰弗里·索南费尔德(Jeffrey Sonnenfeld)教授领导的名单管理人员毫不犹豫地点名了那些没有采取行动的大公司。俄乌冲突爆发一周后,他在美国全国广播公司财经频道(CNBC)上抨击麦当劳保持沉默,称其做法为“令人震惊的反常现象,令所有同行感到困惑”。

伤害远不止严厉的呵斥。索南费尔德的名单触动了市场。在美国全国广播公司财经频道的这档节目中,他提到了几家没有采取立场的公司。之后,包括麦当劳在内的许多公司的股价下跌。

对麦当劳来说,名声是福,有时也是祸。该公司表示,85%的美国人每年至少在麦当劳用餐一次。在100多个国家,这是文化的一部分。人们很关注麦当劳是否会采取行动。几天之内,#抵制麦当劳#(#BoycottMcDonalds)就成了推特上的热门话题。纽约州审计长托马斯·迪纳波利(Thomas DiNapoli)向坎普钦斯基发表了一封公开信,敦促他“考虑暂停或终止其在俄罗斯的业务运营”。迪纳波利是纽约州庞大的员工养老基金的受托人,该基金持有麦当劳的股票。然而,几天过去了,这家公司似乎没采取任何行动。

然而,在幕后,却发生了一系列的活动。 3月初,该公司50名高管的年度会议如期在葡萄牙举行。俄罗斯团队透露,就连俄罗斯官员都想知道麦当劳会怎么做。

美国和其他国家对俄罗斯实施制裁使这一决定变得更加复杂。最重要的是美国对俄罗斯最大的金融机构俄罗斯联邦储蓄银行(Sberbank)的制裁将于3月26日生效。这对麦当劳来说是一大问题,因为它的许多餐厅都在小城镇。“在很多情况下,俄罗斯农村地区唯一的银行是俄罗斯联邦储蓄银行。” 坎普钦斯基说。“我们没法去汇丰银行(HSBC)或法国兴业银行(Société Générale)或其他银行。”随着对俄罗斯联邦储蓄银行的制裁的临近,“那时对我们来说,情况就收紧了很多。”

在坎普钦斯基试图回答棘手问题时,其他首席执行官成为他的重要资源。“跨国公司之间有很多电话交流。”他说。他不愿透露这些首席执行官的名字,但他说,他们会经常打电话给对方,交换意见,分享信息,评估形势的走向,找出应对之策。“这实际上被证明是非常有效的,可以帮助我们更好地了解正在发生的事情。”

内部讨论越来越激烈。坎普钦斯基与博登“每小时都有联系”,博登曾在俄罗斯和乌克兰的公司工作过,有第一手经验。董事会和坎普钦斯基每周都会进行几次谈话。他经常与首席财务官凯文·奥赞(Kevin Ozan)交谈,部分原因是“我们可能不得不进行一些重大冲销”,并与总法律顾问德西瑞·拉尔斯-莫里森(Desiree Ralls—Morrison)讨论美国和欧盟制裁的含义,其中许多制裁措施都是仓促制定的,还很不清楚。

与此同时,冲突的未来走向变得越来越模糊。在俄乌冲突爆发之前,传统观点认为俄罗斯可以在眨眼之间击败乌克兰。美国情报部门估计俄罗斯会在四天内击败乌克兰;英国情报部门预测乌克兰政府将在五小时内倒台。但到了第二周,冲突似乎越来越可能无限期地拖延下去。

为了给这个不断变化的问题强加一些架构,坎普钦斯基着重回答了五个问题:从法律上讲,我们可以在该国开展业务吗?我们有开展业务的自由吗?我们的决定对我们的品牌有帮助吗?我们的决定在商业上有意义吗?我们的决定与我们的价值观一致吗?随着冲突进入第三周,坎普钦斯基说,“我们开始在这份名单上看到更多的黄色而不是绿色(名单里,黄色标注为“缩减”,绿色为“暂停”,即更多的公司选择缩减业务,而不是暂停业务)。”

3月8日,他宣布暂停在俄罗斯的业务。该公司宣布,所有俄罗斯餐厅将“暂时”关闭。麦当劳首次就这场冲突公开表态,称这场冲突“给无辜民众造成了难以言喻的痛苦……我们不能忽视乌克兰正在发生的人类苦难。”

所有俄罗斯员工将继续获得报酬。坎普钦斯基说,公司对他们负有“道义上的责任”。还有一个“实际的考虑”。如果我们只暂停一个月,然后重新开业,“训练有素的在编员工将非常有价值。”

该公司的公告于芝加哥时间上午11点发布。当天结束时,可口可乐公司、百事公司和星巴克公司也宣布暂停在俄罗斯的销售和其他业务。

*****

麦当劳曾在俄罗斯开展主要业务,这真是不可思议。快餐行业的许多竞争者都尝试过,但都不能和麦当劳在俄罗斯取得的成功相提并论。肯德基、必胜客和塔可钟的所有者百胜餐饮集团最终在俄罗斯开设了更多分店,但几乎都是特许经营,因此它们给母公司带来的收入低于麦当劳。其他竞争者来了又走,没有构成威胁。

麦当劳在俄罗斯获得了先发优势,这一优势从未失去,这在很大程度上要归功于该公司加拿大业务的负责人乔治·柯亨(George Cohon)。他从1976年开始拉拢苏联官员,并与最大的官僚机构争吵了14年。事实证明,在权贵阶层中占上风只是成功的一半。当该公司最终获得在莫斯科开设餐厅的许可时,它必须从头开始创建供应商生态系统。麦当劳引进了专家,他们教农民如何种植褐色布尔班克土豆(用来制作炸薯条)和卷心莴苣(用来装饰汉堡),以及如何饲养牛从而提供麦当劳需要的牛肉。来自美国和欧洲的面包师在位于莫斯科郊区松采沃、占地11万平方英尺的“麦当劳建筑群(McComplex)”里教当地人烘焙汉堡面包,该店还加工牛肉和巴氏杀菌牛奶。

该公司还必须建立自己的人力资本。在苏联,看着顾客的眼睛,微笑着说“谢谢”的餐厅工作人员在当时是一个陌生的概念,但俄罗斯人渴望学习。麦当劳的新餐厅是当时世界上最大的麦当劳餐厅,它发布了630个职位的招聘广告,收到了27000份申请。

这家餐厅于1990年1月31日在距离克里姆林宫仅几个街区的普希金广场开业时,莫斯科人在严寒中排了几个小时的队,来拜访这个来自美国的有着异国情调的新来者。这是麦当劳入驻的理想时刻。当时,许多俄罗斯人正在向西方寻求不同的生活方式,而世界上没有什么比麦当劳更西化和非苏联化了。第一天,这家新餐厅一直营业到打烊,接待了3万名顾客。

在西伯利亚经营25家麦当劳餐厅的亚历山大·戈沃尔(Alexander Govor)今年5月收购了该公司在俄罗斯的业务。图片来源:KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV—AFP/Getty Images

最不同寻常的是俄罗斯人轻松地将麦当劳融入他们的文化。到第一年年底,《财富》杂志当时报道说,第一家麦当劳餐厅吸引的游客数量是莫斯科之前的第一大景点列宁墓的三倍。人类学家梅丽莎·考德威尔(Melissa Caldwell)在2004年写道:“莫斯科人公开肯定并接受麦当劳及其产品,将麦当劳及其产品视为他们社会生活中重要且有意义的元素。”对于俄罗斯人来说,这家公司甚至不再是外国公司。“对于许多莫斯科人来说,麦当劳已经变得如此普遍,以至于它不再是文化标志。”她写道。它已经变成了纳什(nash),俄语中“我们的”的意思。

但现在,32年过去了,这种独特的关系还能继续下去吗?在3月8日麦当劳暂停在俄罗斯的业务之前,麦当劳在俄罗斯的业务一直很好。在那之后,它的收入为零,同时继续支付员工工资和房东房租。首席财务官奥赞在华尔街的一次会议上表示,"我们相信(成本)每月将在5000万美元左右。"现在,坎普钦斯基不得不直面是留还是走的决定。

他的决定备受关注。五年来,麦当劳一直在进行关于公司文化和价值观的内部对话。2015年3月,公司英国和北欧业务前负责人史蒂夫·伊斯特布鲁克(Steve Easterbrook)出任首席执行官。公司急需整顿,他的强硬回应包括文化改革。在一项被广泛视为具有象征意义的改革中,他公开禁止使用“麦当劳大家庭(McFamily)”来形容公司的员工,转而使用一个新术语“麦当劳团队(McTeam)”。很多员工不喜欢这样的改革。

1997年,第一家麦当劳餐厅在乌克兰基辅开业时忙碌的一天。图片来源:Reuters Pictures

他的重大调整在某些方面奏效了;截至2019年11月,该公司的市值增长了逾500亿美元,增幅达78%。但就在那时,麦当劳的企业文化再次成为热门话题,伊斯特布鲁克因违反公司政策与一名员工发送色情短信而被突然解雇。

董事会任命坎普钦斯基为伊斯特布鲁克的继任者。员工们有理由对这位相对来说是外人的人保持警惕,但他并没有激起文化辩论。相反,他带回了“麦当劳大家庭”,告诉员工他正统的天主教教育和价值观。他启动了一个为期数月的项目来重申公司的宗旨和价值观——例如,“我们把客户和员工放在首位”,以及“我们要做正确的事情”——并在电视广告活动中宣传这一努力。

现在,220万麦当劳员工,加上数百万看过广告的消费者,将会关注坎普钦斯基,看看该公司是否会兑现承诺。

内部对于这些价值观的含义并不总是达成共识。把客户和员工放在首位?对一些员工来说,这意味着继续为顾客提供食物,并雇佣6.2万名俄罗斯员工。“然后另一群员工会说不,我们在俄罗斯所做的事情无异于支持这场冲突。” 坎普钦斯基回忆说。“这样做是不对的。”

时光荏苒,冬去春来,其他公司纷纷宣布退出俄罗斯:华纳兄弟公司、环球影城、索尼公司停止在俄罗斯发行影片;迪士尼公司停止了在俄罗斯的所有业务;高盛集团和摩根大通开始逐步退出俄罗斯。麦当劳仍然没有消息。

2022年6月,一家之前的俄罗斯麦当劳餐厅改名为Vkusno-i Tochka。图片来源:KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV—AFP/Getty Images

坎普钦斯基说,他不会着急:“我在领导力方面的一般做法是,在你必须做决定之前不要做决定。如果你有能力为自己争取更多时间来获取更多信息,你为什么不利用这一点呢?”他也意识到了外界的压力,但他坚持认为宁愿“慢一点,也不要仓促行事,从而犯错”。因为犯错带来的后果对我们来说非常致命。”

与在俄罗斯开展业务的许多其他西方公司相比,麦当劳受到的影响要大得多。例如,与迅速退出俄罗斯的咨询公司和律师事务所不同,麦当劳在该国拥有硬资产——建筑、车辆和机械。许多公司在俄罗斯的业务规模很小,以至于放弃的成本微不足道。但对于麦当劳来说,俄罗斯很重要。在华尔街分析师们就该公司2022年的总营收将增长6.2%还是6.3%争论不休之际,削减7%的营收并非易事。

可以说,麦当劳最大的分歧是涉及俄罗斯员工的价值观问题。与美国不同,麦当劳在俄罗斯的餐厅员工往往会工作数年。“我们在俄罗斯的领导团队中有一位女性,她[从管理]普希金广场第一家门店的收银机开始,从那时起她就一直在公司工作。”坎普钦斯基说。“她把自己的一生都投入到这件事上。”在权衡离开的决定时,“你在考虑你要对他们说什么。”

使情况复杂化的因素成倍增加。4月,拜登总统签署了一项行政命令,禁止美国公司在俄罗斯进行新的投资,并禁止出口服务。麦当劳可以为自己的餐厅汇款吗?它能否为加盟商提供常规服务(培训、营销)?

坎普钦斯基不断回到这五个问题。“我们到了这样一个地步,我们觉得每个问题的答案都是‘不’。”他回忆道。“答案不是‘可能’。答案是‘不’。”

最后,答案很明确了。麦当劳将不得不退出俄罗斯。但问题仍未解决:公司如何退出至关重要。为了履行公司的价值观,公司不能立即解雇这6.2万名员工。此外,也不知道是否或何时可能重返俄罗斯;放弃853家门店和庞大的供应商网络,显然不是最佳的退出方式。

5月16日,麦当劳宣布退出俄罗斯。“继续在俄罗斯开展业务已经站不住脚了。”该公司表示,“这也不符合麦当劳的价值观。”

该公司还表示,已经“启动了出售俄罗斯业务的程序”,并在三天后宣布了买家:富商亚历山大·戈沃尔,他是麦当劳的特许经营者,在西伯利亚经营着25家餐厅。(该公司尚未披露出售价格,但从与销售相关的收益中收取了13亿美元。)该合同要求戈沃尔“以同等条款保留所有餐厅员工至少两年”。他不能使用麦当劳的名称、标志、品牌或菜单;麦当劳将保留其在俄罗斯的所有商标。“去拱门”的过程立即开始,餐厅重新开业,并更名为“Vkusno-i Tochka”,翻译过来是“美味,就是这样”。据称,新标志代表两份炸薯条和一个汉堡,但它看起来确实像M。

很难找到公众对5月份公告的批评。华尔街也没有因为麦当劳拖延时间而惩罚它;麦当劳股价最近接近历史高点。麦当劳甚至与杰弗里·索南费尔德保持友好关系。“他们从不生我的气,也从不为我辩护。”他说。“他们在聆听。”

官方而言,麦当劳并没有谈及重返俄罗斯。但坎普钦斯基显然很乐意这样做。在谈到公司在俄罗斯的业务时,他仍然偶尔会使用一般现在时。“俄罗斯员工是我们最好的员工。”他说。“或者说他们曾是我们最好的员工。”

坎普钦斯基花了近三个月的时间做出了一个痛苦的决定,这个决定比外界想象的复杂得多。与此同时,他也毫不掩饰自己的愿望:有朝一日,回到俄罗斯将是正确的选择。“让我们不要以告别结束。”他在给员工的一封电子邮件中写道。“相反,让我们用俄语的说法来表达:‘直到我们再次见面。’” (财富中文网)

本文刊登在《财富》杂志2022年8月-9月刊上,标题为“漫长的告别:麦当劳离开俄罗斯的痛苦决定”。

译者:中慧言-王芳

2月24日,伦敦时间凌晨4点,麦当劳国际业务总裁伊恩·博登(Ian Borden)在芝加哥给他的老板、首席执行官克里斯·坎普钦斯基(Chris Kempczinski)发了一条紧急消息。

一小时前,弗拉基米尔·普京(Vladimir Putin)宣布俄罗斯将进军乌克兰,对基辅、哈尔科夫、敖德萨和其他地方的攻击已经开始。博登告诉坎普钦斯基,公司在乌克兰的107家餐厅已经关闭,并设立了员工热线。

芝加哥时间是晚上10 点。在那之前,时年53岁的坎普钦斯基一直像其他人一样关注乌克兰局势,并怀疑它会演变成战争。他说:“似乎有一种剑拔弩张的感觉。当然,这不会导致任何形式的入侵。”他回忆道。现在他意识到:“好吧,是的——我们生活在不同的世界。”

在接下来的81天时间里,坎普钦斯基做出了一个影响了数百万人生活的决定。这不是关于乌克兰业务的决定,这是关于俄罗斯的决定:麦当劳是否需要放弃这个拥有853家门店的市场?这个市场既是经济上的利好,也是麦当劳崛起成为历史上最具主导地位的全球品牌之一的有力象征。

他知道,无论他做出什么决定,都会产生巨大影响。最直接的是,一个“是留还是走”的电话将影响该公司在俄罗斯的6.2万名员工;几乎所有的俄罗斯餐厅都是公司所有的,而不是特许经营的,所以这些员工大多直接为麦当劳工作。这也会影响公司的财务状况。俄罗斯去年贡献了全球收入的7%,随着销售额从疫情期间的低点继续攀升,这是一笔可观的收入。更广泛地说,坎普钦斯基知道他的决定可能会强化或损害麦当劳的品牌和声誉。该公司前首席执行官因与员工发生不正当关系而被解雇,公司正从尴尬的丑闻中恢复过来,这也为坎普钦斯基做决定增添了压力。这一事件引发了一场关于麦当劳文化和价值观的内部争论,公司员工肯定会从这个角度审视坎普钦斯基的选择。

这一决定具有广泛而深远的象征意义。1990年,俄罗斯第一家麦当劳餐厅的开业是一大全球性新闻事件,金拱门入驻莫斯科预示着俄罗斯向外部世界开放,因为它甚至欢迎这家充满活力和资本主义气息的美国企业。撤离的决定将表明西方正在撤退,而俄罗斯正在逆转,再次转向国内。

2月24日,当坎普钦斯基走进办公室时,处理这些重大问题突然成为他待办事项清单上的头等大事。

*****

与麦当劳创始人雷·克洛克(Ray Kroc)之后的历任首席执行官不同,坎普钦斯基不是从麦当劳内部提拔上来的。相反,在2015年加入麦当劳之前,他在美国的几所精英教育和企业管理学院——杜克大学、宝洁公司、哈佛商学院、波士顿咨询集团、百事公司、卡夫食品公司——中步步高升。他迅速晋升为麦当劳最大的市场——美国麦当劳的主管,并于2019年出任首席执行官。4个月后,疫情爆发,他带领公司成功度过了一场前所未有的危机。现在他面对的是另一场危机。

首先,他和他的团队延长了乌克兰餐厅的关闭时间,直至另行通知。乌克兰餐厅都是公司所有的。坎普钦斯基说,公司刚刚度过了新冠疫情危机,知道“如何迅速锁定整个市场”。早期没有员工被杀害,但显然没有一个地方是安全的。该公司表示,将继续支付所有乌克兰员工的工资。

更棘手的问题是俄罗斯。其他企业行动迅速,但麦当劳却没有。俄乌冲突爆发后的第一天,达美航空公司宣布暂停与俄罗斯航空公司的联盟。一级方程式赛车取消了俄罗斯大奖赛,欧洲足球协会联盟将冠军联赛决赛从圣彼得堡移至巴黎。一周之内,苹果公司、英国石油公司、宜家、Meta Platforms、奈飞公司、耐克公司、壳牌、大众汽车和其他公司宣布停产、停止销售、关闭门店或采取其他重大行动。麦当劳没有发布任何公告。

数字时代新元素在施加压力,迫使各大公司采取行动。耶鲁大学的非营利性首席执行官领导力研究所发布了一份持续更新的在线名单,列出了已退出和仍留在俄罗斯的公司。由杰弗里·索南费尔德(Jeffrey Sonnenfeld)教授领导的名单管理人员毫不犹豫地点名了那些没有采取行动的大公司。俄乌冲突爆发一周后,他在美国全国广播公司财经频道(CNBC)上抨击麦当劳保持沉默,称其做法为“令人震惊的反常现象,令所有同行感到困惑”。

伤害远不止严厉的呵斥。索南费尔德的名单触动了市场。在美国全国广播公司财经频道的这档节目中,他提到了几家没有采取立场的公司。之后,包括麦当劳在内的许多公司的股价下跌。

对麦当劳来说,名声是福,有时也是祸。该公司表示,85%的美国人每年至少在麦当劳用餐一次。在100多个国家,这是文化的一部分。人们很关注麦当劳是否会采取行动。几天之内,#抵制麦当劳#(#BoycottMcDonalds)就成了推特上的热门话题。纽约州审计长托马斯·迪纳波利(Thomas DiNapoli)向坎普钦斯基发表了一封公开信,敦促他“考虑暂停或终止其在俄罗斯的业务运营”。迪纳波利是纽约州庞大的员工养老基金的受托人,该基金持有麦当劳的股票。然而,几天过去了,这家公司似乎没采取任何行动。

然而,在幕后,却发生了一系列的活动。 3月初,该公司50名高管的年度会议如期在葡萄牙举行。俄罗斯团队透露,就连俄罗斯官员都想知道麦当劳会怎么做。

美国和其他国家对俄罗斯实施制裁使这一决定变得更加复杂。最重要的是美国对俄罗斯最大的金融机构俄罗斯联邦储蓄银行(Sberbank)的制裁将于3月26日生效。这对麦当劳来说是一大问题,因为它的许多餐厅都在小城镇。“在很多情况下,俄罗斯农村地区唯一的银行是俄罗斯联邦储蓄银行。” 坎普钦斯基说。“我们没法去汇丰银行(HSBC)或法国兴业银行(Société Générale)或其他银行。”随着对俄罗斯联邦储蓄银行的制裁的临近,“那时对我们来说,情况就收紧了很多。”

在坎普钦斯基试图回答棘手问题时,其他首席执行官成为他的重要资源。“跨国公司之间有很多电话交流。”他说。他不愿透露这些首席执行官的名字,但他说,他们会经常打电话给对方,交换意见,分享信息,评估形势的走向,找出应对之策。“这实际上被证明是非常有效的,可以帮助我们更好地了解正在发生的事情。”

内部讨论越来越激烈。坎普钦斯基与博登“每小时都有联系”,博登曾在俄罗斯和乌克兰的公司工作过,有第一手经验。董事会和坎普钦斯基每周都会进行几次谈话。他经常与首席财务官凯文·奥赞(Kevin Ozan)交谈,部分原因是“我们可能不得不进行一些重大冲销”,并与总法律顾问德西瑞·拉尔斯-莫里森(Desiree Ralls—Morrison)讨论美国和欧盟制裁的含义,其中许多制裁措施都是仓促制定的,还很不清楚。

与此同时,冲突的未来走向变得越来越模糊。在俄乌冲突爆发之前,传统观点认为俄罗斯可以在眨眼之间击败乌克兰。美国情报部门估计俄罗斯会在四天内击败乌克兰;英国情报部门预测乌克兰政府将在五小时内倒台。但到了第二周,冲突似乎越来越可能无限期地拖延下去。

为了给这个不断变化的问题强加一些架构,坎普钦斯基着重回答了五个问题:从法律上讲,我们可以在该国开展业务吗?我们有开展业务的自由吗?我们的决定对我们的品牌有帮助吗?我们的决定在商业上有意义吗?我们的决定与我们的价值观一致吗?随着冲突进入第三周,坎普钦斯基说,“我们开始在这份名单上看到更多的黄色而不是绿色(名单里,黄色标注为“缩减”,绿色为“暂停”,即更多的公司选择缩减业务,而不是暂停业务)。”

3月8日,他宣布暂停在俄罗斯的业务。该公司宣布,所有俄罗斯餐厅将“暂时”关闭。麦当劳首次就这场冲突公开表态,称这场冲突“给无辜民众造成了难以言喻的痛苦……我们不能忽视乌克兰正在发生的人类苦难。”

所有俄罗斯员工将继续获得报酬。坎普钦斯基说,公司对他们负有“道义上的责任”。还有一个“实际的考虑”。如果我们只暂停一个月,然后重新开业,“训练有素的在编员工将非常有价值。”

该公司的公告于芝加哥时间上午11点发布。当天结束时,可口可乐公司、百事公司和星巴克公司也宣布暂停在俄罗斯的销售和其他业务。

*****

麦当劳曾在俄罗斯开展主要业务,这真是不可思议。快餐行业的许多竞争者都尝试过,但都不能和麦当劳在俄罗斯取得的成功相提并论。肯德基、必胜客和塔可钟的所有者百胜餐饮集团最终在俄罗斯开设了更多分店,但几乎都是特许经营,因此它们给母公司带来的收入低于麦当劳。其他竞争者来了又走,没有构成威胁。

麦当劳在俄罗斯获得了先发优势,这一优势从未失去,这在很大程度上要归功于该公司加拿大业务的负责人乔治·柯亨(George Cohon)。他从1976年开始拉拢苏联官员,并与最大的官僚机构争吵了14年。事实证明,在权贵阶层中占上风只是成功的一半。当该公司最终获得在莫斯科开设餐厅的许可时,它必须从头开始创建供应商生态系统。麦当劳引进了专家,他们教农民如何种植褐色布尔班克土豆(用来制作炸薯条)和卷心莴苣(用来装饰汉堡),以及如何饲养牛从而提供麦当劳需要的牛肉。来自美国和欧洲的面包师在位于莫斯科郊区松采沃、占地11万平方英尺的“麦当劳建筑群(McComplex)”里教当地人烘焙汉堡面包,该店还加工牛肉和巴氏杀菌牛奶。

该公司还必须建立自己的人力资本。在苏联,看着顾客的眼睛,微笑着说“谢谢”的餐厅工作人员在当时是一个陌生的概念,但俄罗斯人渴望学习。麦当劳的新餐厅是当时世界上最大的麦当劳餐厅,它发布了630个职位的招聘广告,收到了27000份申请。

这家餐厅于1990年1月31日在距离克里姆林宫仅几个街区的普希金广场开业时,莫斯科人在严寒中排了几个小时的队,来拜访这个来自美国的有着异国情调的新来者。这是麦当劳入驻的理想时刻。当时,许多俄罗斯人正在向西方寻求不同的生活方式,而世界上没有什么比麦当劳更西化和非苏联化了。第一天,这家新餐厅一直营业到打烊,接待了3万名顾客。

最不同寻常的是俄罗斯人轻松地将麦当劳融入他们的文化。到第一年年底,《财富》杂志当时报道说,第一家麦当劳餐厅吸引的游客数量是莫斯科之前的第一大景点列宁墓的三倍。人类学家梅丽莎·考德威尔(Melissa Caldwell)在2004年写道:“莫斯科人公开肯定并接受麦当劳及其产品,将麦当劳及其产品视为他们社会生活中重要且有意义的元素。”对于俄罗斯人来说,这家公司甚至不再是外国公司。“对于许多莫斯科人来说,麦当劳已经变得如此普遍,以至于它不再是文化标志。”她写道。它已经变成了纳什(nash),俄语中“我们的”的意思。

但现在,32年过去了,这种独特的关系还能继续下去吗?在3月8日麦当劳暂停在俄罗斯的业务之前,麦当劳在俄罗斯的业务一直很好。在那之后,它的收入为零,同时继续支付员工工资和房东房租。首席财务官奥赞在华尔街的一次会议上表示,"我们相信(成本)每月将在5000万美元左右。"现在,坎普钦斯基不得不直面是留还是走的决定。

他的决定备受关注。五年来,麦当劳一直在进行关于公司文化和价值观的内部对话。2015年3月,公司英国和北欧业务前负责人史蒂夫·伊斯特布鲁克(Steve Easterbrook)出任首席执行官。公司急需整顿,他的强硬回应包括文化改革。在一项被广泛视为具有象征意义的改革中,他公开禁止使用“麦当劳大家庭(McFamily)”来形容公司的员工,转而使用一个新术语“麦当劳团队(McTeam)”。很多员工不喜欢这样的改革。

他的重大调整在某些方面奏效了;截至2019年11月,该公司的市值增长了逾500亿美元,增幅达78%。但就在那时,麦当劳的企业文化再次成为热门话题,伊斯特布鲁克因违反公司政策与一名员工发送色情短信而被突然解雇。

董事会任命坎普钦斯基为伊斯特布鲁克的继任者。员工们有理由对这位相对来说是外人的人保持警惕,但他并没有激起文化辩论。相反,他带回了“麦当劳大家庭”,告诉员工他正统的天主教教育和价值观。他启动了一个为期数月的项目来重申公司的宗旨和价值观——例如,“我们把客户和员工放在首位”,以及“我们要做正确的事情”——并在电视广告活动中宣传这一努力。

现在,220万麦当劳员工,加上数百万看过广告的消费者,将会关注坎普钦斯基,看看该公司是否会兑现承诺。

内部对于这些价值观的含义并不总是达成共识。把客户和员工放在首位?对一些员工来说,这意味着继续为顾客提供食物,并雇佣6.2万名俄罗斯员工。“然后另一群员工会说不,我们在俄罗斯所做的事情无异于支持这场冲突。” 坎普钦斯基回忆说。“这样做是不对的。”

时光荏苒,冬去春来,其他公司纷纷宣布退出俄罗斯:华纳兄弟公司、环球影城、索尼公司停止在俄罗斯发行影片;迪士尼公司停止了在俄罗斯的所有业务;高盛集团和摩根大通开始逐步退出俄罗斯。麦当劳仍然没有消息。

坎普钦斯基说,他不会着急:“我在领导力方面的一般做法是,在你必须做决定之前不要做决定。如果你有能力为自己争取更多时间来获取更多信息,你为什么不利用这一点呢?”他也意识到了外界的压力,但他坚持认为宁愿“慢一点,也不要仓促行事,从而犯错”。因为犯错带来的后果对我们来说非常致命。”

与在俄罗斯开展业务的许多其他西方公司相比,麦当劳受到的影响要大得多。例如,与迅速退出俄罗斯的咨询公司和律师事务所不同,麦当劳在该国拥有硬资产——建筑、车辆和机械。许多公司在俄罗斯的业务规模很小,以至于放弃的成本微不足道。但对于麦当劳来说,俄罗斯很重要。在华尔街分析师们就该公司2022年的总营收将增长6.2%还是6.3%争论不休之际,削减7%的营收并非易事。

可以说,麦当劳最大的分歧是涉及俄罗斯员工的价值观问题。与美国不同,麦当劳在俄罗斯的餐厅员工往往会工作数年。“我们在俄罗斯的领导团队中有一位女性,她[从管理]普希金广场第一家门店的收银机开始,从那时起她就一直在公司工作。”坎普钦斯基说。“她把自己的一生都投入到这件事上。”在权衡离开的决定时,“你在考虑你要对他们说什么。”

使情况复杂化的因素成倍增加。4月,拜登总统签署了一项行政命令,禁止美国公司在俄罗斯进行新的投资,并禁止出口服务。麦当劳可以为自己的餐厅汇款吗?它能否为加盟商提供常规服务(培训、营销)?

坎普钦斯基不断回到这五个问题。“我们到了这样一个地步,我们觉得每个问题的答案都是‘不’。”他回忆道。“答案不是‘可能’。答案是‘不’。”

最后,答案很明确了。麦当劳将不得不退出俄罗斯。但问题仍未解决:公司如何退出至关重要。为了履行公司的价值观,公司不能立即解雇这6.2万名员工。此外,也不知道是否或何时可能重返俄罗斯;放弃853家门店和庞大的供应商网络,显然不是最佳的退出方式。

5月16日,麦当劳宣布退出俄罗斯。“继续在俄罗斯开展业务已经站不住脚了。”该公司表示,“这也不符合麦当劳的价值观。”

该公司还表示,已经“启动了出售俄罗斯业务的程序”,并在三天后宣布了买家:富商亚历山大·戈沃尔,他是麦当劳的特许经营者,在西伯利亚经营着25家餐厅。(该公司尚未披露出售价格,但从与销售相关的收益中收取了13亿美元。)该合同要求戈沃尔“以同等条款保留所有餐厅员工至少两年”。他不能使用麦当劳的名称、标志、品牌或菜单;麦当劳将保留其在俄罗斯的所有商标。“去拱门”的过程立即开始,餐厅重新开业,并更名为“Vkusno-i Tochka”,翻译过来是“美味,就是这样”。据称,新标志代表两份炸薯条和一个汉堡,但它看起来确实像M。

很难找到公众对5月份公告的批评。华尔街也没有因为麦当劳拖延时间而惩罚它;麦当劳股价最近接近历史高点。麦当劳甚至与杰弗里·索南费尔德保持友好关系。“他们从不生我的气,也从不为我辩护。”他说。“他们在聆听。”

官方而言,麦当劳并没有谈及重返俄罗斯。但坎普钦斯基显然很乐意这样做。在谈到公司在俄罗斯的业务时,他仍然偶尔会使用一般现在时。“俄罗斯员工是我们最好的员工。”他说。“或者说他们曾是我们最好的员工。”

坎普钦斯基花了近三个月的时间做出了一个痛苦的决定,这个决定比外界想象的复杂得多。与此同时,他也毫不掩饰自己的愿望:有朝一日,回到俄罗斯将是正确的选择。“让我们不要以告别结束。”他在给员工的一封电子邮件中写道。“相反,让我们用俄语的说法来表达:‘直到我们再次见面。’” (财富中文网)

本文刊登在《财富》杂志2022年8月-9月刊上,标题为“漫长的告别:麦当劳离开俄罗斯的痛苦决定”。

译者:中慧言-王芳

It was 4 a.m. in London on Feb. 24 when Ian Borden, McDonald’s president of international operations, texted urgent news to his boss, CEO Chris Kempczinski, in Chicago.

Vladimir Putin had announced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine an hour earlier, and attacks had begun in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, and elsewhere. Borden told Kempczinski the company’s 107 Ukraine restaurants had been closed, and an employee hotline had been set up.

In Chicago it was 10 p.m. Until then, Kempczinski, 53, had been watching the Ukraine situation like everyone else and doubting it would come to hostilities. “There seemed to be this sense of a lot of saber rattling. Surely this isn’t going to lead to any sort of invasion,” he recalls. Now he realized, “Okay, yeah—we’re in a different world.”

Over the following 81 days, Kempczinski would find his way to a decision that would reverberate through the lives of millions. It wasn’t a decision about the business in Ukraine; while vitally important, that call—shut down the restaurants, take care of the employees—was straightforward. No, the real question was about Russia, and whether McDonald’s would need to abandon an 853-store market that was both an economic boon and a powerful symbol of the company’s rise to become one of the most dominant global brands in history.

He knew that whatever his decision, the repercussions would be immense. Most immediately, a stay-or-go call would affect the company’s 62,000 employees in Russia; nearly all the Russian restaurants were company-owned, not franchised, so most of those employees worked directly for McDonald’s. It would also impact the company’s finances. Russia contributed 7% of global revenue last year, a significant sum as sales continue to climb from a pandemic low. More broadly, Kempczinski knew his decision could strengthen or injure McDonald’s brand and reputation. The fact that the company was recovering from an embarrassing scandal involving its former CEO, who was ousted for having an inappropriate relationship with an employee, added to the pressure. The saga sparked an internal debate over McDonald’s culture and values, and the company’s workforce would surely scrutinize Kempczinski’s choice through that lens.

Most broadly, the decision would be deeply symbolic. The opening of the first Russian McDonald’s restaurant in 1990 had been a global news event. With Communism crumbling and glasnost ascending, the Golden Arches’ arrival in Moscow heralded Russia’s opening to the outside world as it welcomed even this vigorously capitalist, exuberantly American institution. A decision to leave would signal that the West was retreating and the country reversing course, turning inward again.

As Kempczinski went to his office on Feb. 24, tackling those weighty issues was suddenly at the top of his to-do list.

*****

Unlike all previous McDonald’s CEOs since founder Ray Kroc, Kempczinski didn’t come up through the company. Instead, he had risen through several of America’s elite educational and corporate management academies—Duke University, Procter & Gamble, Harvard Business School, Boston Consulting Group, PepsiCo, Kraft Foods—before joining McDonald’s in 2015. He advanced quickly to heading -McDonald’s USA, the company’s largest market, and became CEO in 2019. Four months later the pandemic hit, and he managed the company successfully through an unprecedented crisis. Now he faced another one.

First, he and his team extended the shutdown of the Ukrainian restaurants until further notice. All are company-owned. Having just come through COVID, the company knew “how to lock down a whole market very quickly,” Kempczinski says. No employees had been killed in the early days, but clearly no place was safe. The company says it is continuing to pay all Ukrainian employees.

The harder issue was Russia. Other organizations were moving fast, and McDonald’s wasn’t. On the first day after the invasion, Delta Air Lines announced it was suspending its alliance with Aeroflot. Formula 1 racing canceled its Russian Grand Prix, and the Union of European Football Associations moved its Champions League soccer final from St. Petersburg to Paris. Within a week, Apple, British Petroleum, Ikea, Meta Platforms (Facebook’s parent), Netflix, Nike, Shell, Volkswagen, and others had announced they would halt production, stop sales, close stores, or take other significant action. McDonald’s had made no announcements.

A new digital-era element added pressure to act. Yale University’s nonprofit Chief Executive Leadership Institute launched a continuously updated online list of companies leaving and staying in Russia. The list’s curators, led by professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, didn’t hesitate to call out major companies that hadn’t acted. On CNBC a week after the invasion, he blasted McDonald’s for staying quiet, calling it “a screaming anomaly that’s bewildering to all its peers.”

The damage went beyond harsh words. Sonnenfeld’s list moved markets. After the CNBC spot, in which he cited several companies that hadn’t taken a stance on Russia, the share prices of many, including McDonald’s, dropped.

Fame is a blessing and an occasional curse for McDonald’s. The company says 85% of the U.S. population eats there at least once a year. In over 100 countries, it’s part of the culture. People are interested in what McDonald’s does or doesn’t do. Within days, #BoycottMcDonalds was trending on Twitter. New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, trustee of the state’s giant pension fund for employees, which owns McDonald’s stock, released a public letter to Kempczinski urging him to “consider pausing or ending its business operations” in Russia. Still, days passed with the company seemingly doing nothing.

Behind the scenes, however, there was a flurry of activity. The company’s annual meeting of its top 50 executives went on as scheduled in Portugal at the beginning of March. The Russian team revealed that even Russian officials wanted to know what McDonald’s would do.

Complicating the decision significantly were sanctions imposed on Russia by the U.S. and other countries. Most important was a U.S. sanction on Russia’s largest financial institution, Sberbank, which would take effect on March 26. That was a problem for McDonald’s because many of its restaurants were in small towns. “In many cases, the only bank in town in rural Russia is Sberbank,” says Kempczinski. “We didn’t have the luxury of going to HSBC or Société Générale or one of those others.” As the Sberbank sanction drew closer, he says, “that’s when things for us tightened up quite a bit.”

Other CEOs were an important resource for Kempczinski as he tried to answer hard questions. “There were a lot of calls happening between multinationals,” he says. He won’t name the CEOs, but he says they would call one another frequently, comparing notes, sharing information, assessing where the situation was going, figuring out how to navigate through it. “That actually proved to be very helpful, to try to build a bigger picture of what exactly is going on.”

Internal discussions were growing intense. Kempczinski was in “hourly contact” with Borden, who had firsthand experience, having worked for the company in Russia and Ukraine. The board and Kempczinski spoke several times a week. He spoke often with CFO Kevin Ozan, in part because “we were looking at potentially having to do some significant write-offs,” and with general counsel Desiree Ralls--Morrison about the meaning of U.S. and European Union sanctions, many of which had been hastily written and were far from clear.

Meanwhile, the conflict’s future was getting murkier. Before the invasion, conventional wisdom held that Russia could defeat Ukraine in an eyeblink. U.S. intelligence estimated four days; British intelligence predicted the government would topple in five hours. But by the second week, the conflict increasingly looked set to drag on indefinitely.

To impose some structure on a problem that was morphing continually, Kempczinski focused on answering five questions: Legally, can we operate in the country? Do we have the freedom to operate? Is our decision helpful to our brand? Does our decision make good business sense? Does our decision align with our values? As the conflict approached its third week, Kempczinski says, “we started getting more yellows than greens on that list.”

On March 8 he declared a time-out, a “pause” in operations. All the Russian restaurants would shut down “temporarily,” the company announced. For the first time, McDonald’s took a public stance on the conflict, saying it “has caused unspeakable suffering to innocent people … We cannot ignore the needless human suffering unfolding in Ukraine.”

All Russian employees would continue to be paid. The company had “a moral obligation” to them, Kempczinski said. There was also a “practical consideration. If we’re only paused for a month, and we reopen,” a fully trained workforce already on the payroll would be highly valuable.

The company’s announcement went out at 11 a.m. Chicago time. By the end of the day, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Starbucks had also announced they were suspending sales and other operations in Russia.

*****

It’s miraculous that McDonald’s ever had a major Russian business. Many competitors in the quick-service restaurant industry tried and failed to match its success in Russia. Yum Brands, owner of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, eventually had more Russian outlets, but nearly all were franchised, so their revenue to the parent was less than McDonald’s. Other competitors came and went without posing a threat.

McDonald’s gained a first-mover advantage in Russia that it never lost, thanks in large part to the head of the company’s Canadian business, George Cohon. He started courting Soviet officials in 1976 and wrangled with the mother of all bureaucracies for 14 years. Prevailing with the nomenklatura proved to be only half the battle. When the company finally got permission to open a restaurant in Moscow, it had to create an ecosystem of suppliers from scratch. McDonald’s imported experts who taught farmers how to grow Russet Burbank potatoes for french fries and iceberg lettuce for garnishing burgers, and how to raise cattle to become McDonald’s-worthy beef. Bakers from the U.S. and Europe taught locals to bake hamburger buns at the 110,000-square-foot “McComplex”—located in the Moscow suburb of Solntsevo—which also processed beef and pasteurized milk.

The company had to build its own human capital as well. A restaurant worker who looks customers in the eye, smiles, and says thank-you was a concept unknown in Soviet Russia, but Russians were eager to learn. McDonald’s advertised for 630 jobs at the new restaurant—the world’s biggest McDonald’s at the time—and received 27,000 applications.

When the restaurant opened on Jan. 31, 1990, in Pushkin Square, just blocks from the Kremlin, Muscovites lined up for hours in the biting cold to visit this exotic newcomer from America. It was the ideal moment for McDonald’s to arrive. Many Russians were looking west for the way to a better life, and nothing in the world could be more Western and un-Soviet than McDonald’s. The new restaurant stayed open well past closing time on that first day, serving 30,000 customers.

Most remarkable was the ease with which Russians brought McDonald’s into their culture. By the end of its first year, Fortune reported at the time, that initial McDonald’s restaurant was attracting three times more visitors than Moscow’s previous No. 1 attraction, Lenin’s tomb. “Muscovites have publicly affirmed and embraced McDonald’s and its products as significant and meaningful elements in their social worlds,” wrote anthropologist Melissa Caldwell in 2004. To Russians, the company even ceased to be foreign. “For many Muscovites, McDonald’s has become so ordinary that it is no longer culturally marked,” she wrote. It had become nash, Russian for “ours.”

But now, 32 years later, could the unique relationship continue? Before the March 8 pause, McDonald’s Russia had been a good business. After that date it was bringing in zero revenue while continuing to pay employees and landlords. CFO Ozan told a Wall Street conference, “We believe that [the costs] will be roughly around $50 million a month.” Kempczinski now had to face the stay-or-go decision head-on.

He would be making the call under an especially bright spotlight. For five years McDonald’s had been holding an internal conversation about the company’s culture and values. It began when Steve Easterbrook, former head of the company’s U.K. and northern Europe businesses, became CEO in March 2015. The company badly needed fixing, and his hard-charging response included a cultural overhaul. In one change broadly seen as symbolic, he publicly banned the use of “McFamily” to describe the company’s workforce, in favor of a new term, McTeam. Many employees didn’t like that.

Some aspects of his shake-up worked; the company’s market value grew by more than $50 billion, or 78%, by November 2019. But that’s when the corporate culture again became a hot topic, as Easterbrook was abruptly fired for violating company policy by sexting with an employee.

The board named Kempczinski his successor. Employees had reason to be wary of this relative outsider, but he didn’t inflame the culture debate. Instead, he brought back McFamily and told employees about his strong Catholic upbringing and the values that came with it. He launched a monthslong project to restate the company’s purpose and values—“We put our customers and people first,” for example, and “We do the right thing”—and publicized the effort in a TV advertising campaign.

Now 2.2 million McDonald’s employees, plus millions of consumers who saw the ads, would be watching Kempczinski to see if the company lived up to its words.

Internally there wasn’t always consensus on what those values meant. Putting our customers and people first? To some employees that meant continuing to feed customers and employ 62,000 Russians. “And then a different group of employees would say no, what we’re doing over there is supporting this war effort,” Kemp-czinski recalls. “That’s not doing the right thing.”

The days rolled by, winter turned to spring, and other companies announced their exits from Russia: Warner Bros., Universal, and Sony stopped releasing films there; Disney halted all business in the country; Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan started winding down. Still no word from McDonald’s.

Kempczinski says he was not going to be hurried: “My general approach on leadership stuff is, don’t make a decision until you absolutely have to make a decision. If you have the ability to buy yourself more time to get some more information, why wouldn’t you take advantage of that?” He was aware of the external pressure but insists he’d rather “be a little slower than rush and get it wrong. Because the ramifications of getting it wrong are so significant for us.”

The ramifications were much larger for McDonald’s than for many other Western companies in Russia. Unlike consulting firms and law firms that exited quickly, for example, McDonald’s had hard assets in the country—buildings, vehicles, machinery. The Russian operations of many companies were so small that the cost of abandoning them would be immaterial. But for McDonald’s, Russia was material. With Wall Street analysts debating whether the company’s total 2022 revenue would grow 6.2% or 6.3%, lopping off 7% of revenue would not be a step lightly taken.

Arguably the largest ramification for McDonald’s, a values issue, concerned the Russian employees. McDonald’s restaurant employees in Russia, unlike in the U.S., tended to stay for years. “We had a woman on the leadership team in Russia who [started by running] the cash register at store No. 1 in Pushkin Square, and she’s been at the company ever since,” says Kempczinski. “She’s put her whole life in this thing.” Weighing a decision to leave, “you’re thinking about what you’re going to say to them.”

Complications multiplied. In April, President Biden signed an executive order prohibiting new investment in Russia by U.S. companies and prohibiting exportation of services. Could McDonald’s send money for its own restaurants? Could it perform routine services (training, marketing) for franchisees?

Kempczinski kept going back to those five questions. “We just got to a point where we felt the answer to each of those was a hard no,” he recalls. “It wasn’t a maybe. It was a hard no.”

At last the answer was clear. McDonald’s would have to leave Russia. But the problem still wasn’t solved: How the company departed would be important. To honor its values, it couldn’t summarily fire those 62,000 workers. In addition, there was no telling if or when it might be possible to return; walking away from 853 locations and abandoning a vast network of suppliers was clearly not the optimal way to exit.

On May 16, McDonald’s announced the departure. “Continued ownership of the business in Russia is no longer tenable,” the company said, “nor is it consistent with McDonald’s values.”

It also said it had “initiated a process to sell its Russian business” and three days later announced the buyer: Alexander Govor, a wealthy businessman and McDonald’s licensee who operated 25 restaurants in Siberia. (The company has not disclosed the sale price but took a $1.3 billion charge to earnings related to the sale.) The contract requires him to retain all restaurant employees “for at least two years on equivalent terms.” He cannot use the McDonald’s name, logo, brands, or menus; McDonald’s is retaining all its trademarks in Russia. The “de-Arching” process began immediately, and the restaurants are reopening under a new name, Vkusno-i Tochka, which translates as “Tasty and That’s It.” The new logo purportedly represents two french fries and a burger, but it certainly looks like an M.

Public criticism of the May announcements is hard to find. Nor has Wall Street punished the company for taking its time; the stock has lately been near all-time highs. McDonald’s is even on good terms with Jeffrey Sonnenfeld. “They never got mad at me or were defensive,” he says. “They listened.”

Officially, McDonald’s does not talk about returning to Russia. But Kempczinski would clearly love to. In reflecting on the company’s Russian business, he still occasionally slips into the present tense. “The Russian employees are some of our best employees,” he says. “Or they were some of our best employees.”

Kempczinski spent nearly three months making a painful decision that was freighted with more complications than outsiders realized. The decision he made will put him on the right side of history. At the same time, he doesn’t hide his wish that the day may come when going back to Russia will be the right thing to do. “Let us not end by saying goodbye,” he wrote in an email to employees. “Instead, let us say as they do in Russian: ‘Until we meet again.’ ” 

This article appears in the August/September 2022 issue of Fortune with the headline, "The long goodbye: Inside McDonald's agonizing decision to leave Russia."

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