McDonald’s is closing in Belarus and Kazakhstan at the same time: What do the two countries’ fast-food problems have in common?
15 mins

На русском языке: McDonald’s в Беларуси и Казахстане начал закрываться одновременно: Что общего в проблемах фаст-фуда двух стран?

In October 2022, the breakfast menu of McDonald’s in Belarus lost most of its items, and later burgers began to disappear as well. It became known about the upcoming withdrawal of McDonald’s from Belarus on November 11, when the website of the restaurant published a message saying that McDonald’s in Belarus would work under the Russian brand «Vkusno – i tochka». However, no timeframe for the closure was mentioned.

On the same day, the news on the withdrawal of McDonald’s appeared on Reuters, which contained links to the statement of McDonald’s:

«Due to serious problems with local supplies, our McDonald’s branch can no longer continue its work in Belarus […] As a result, the chain will stop its activity as McDonald’s and will no longer carry the McDonald’s name or use our menu,» McDonald’s said in a statement.

Simultaneous notification on changes

And then the most interesting thing begins. On November 17, 2022 a notice is published with the date of McDonald’s withdrawal from Belarus, and that it becomes «Vkusno – i tochka». On the same day, McDonald’s in Kazakhstan announced the temporary suspension of work of all restaurants.

«November 21 is the last day of our McDonald’s-branded restaurants. On this day our doors will be open until 18:00. But on November 22 we will be glad to see you again in all the restaurants of our chain under the new brand  «Vkusno – i tochka,» the message of McDonald’s in Belarus said.

McDonald’s is closing in Belarus and Kazakhstan at the same time: What do the two countries’ fast-food problems have in common?

Notification on the closure of McDonald's in Belarus / motolkohelp

«McDonald’s in Kazakhstan (Food Solutions KZ LLP) is temporarily suspending the work of all its restaurants from November 18 due to restrictions in local supplies. The company is making every effort to resume operations as soon as possible. The date of opening of restaurants will be announced later,» McDonald’s in Kazakhstan reported.

The same owner

It should be noted that the McDonald’s franchise in Belarus and Kazakhstan is owned by one person – Kairat Boranbayev (there was no information that he sold the franchise). He is one of the richest people in Kazakhstan, ranked 14th in the Kazakhstan Forbes.

McDonald’s is closing in Belarus and Kazakhstan at the same time: What do the two countries’ fast-food problems have in common?

Kairat Boranbayev at the Minsk Half Marathon in 2017 /

In March 2022, Boranbayev was arrested. It was reported that he was suspected of embezzlement on a particularly large scale in the quasi-state sector and was placed under arrest for 2 months. As you understand, he was not released after 2 months, and a trial started in late December, where he was denied a transfer to house arrest.

Problems with supplies

Another link in this news is the problems with the supply of food that McDonald’s restaurants have faced, both in Belarus and in Kazakhstan.

On January 4, Bloomberg reported that McDonald’s is going to leave Kazakhstan due to problems with meat supplies caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

«McDonald’s, which left Russia after the invasion, prohibited its local franchisee from buying meat patties from Russian suppliers. […] Kazakh businesses could not buy meat patties from local or European suppliers, because the higher prices and costs for the transportation of goods across the huge country would mean doing business at a loss.»

The Belarusian McDonald’s reported about the disruptions in the supply of products back on October 19, when 14 items of the morning McBreakfast menu were removed from the menu;. Later, BigTasty burgers, apple juice and sauces began to disappear as well. However, the company’s press release did not mention specific products they had problems with.

Employees of the chain said anonymously that problems emerged with the supply of products from Russia: packaging for sandwiches, glasses, buns for burgers, cheese, and fillers for ice cream. As a result, they had to buy them from other countries, for example, Georgia, which made production very expensive.

"Vkusno i tochka" is cancelled here and there

We have already mentioned above the coincidence of the date of November 17, but at the same time there is another information about the chain in the two countries. Specifically, that the Russian chain «Vkusno i tochka» will not be in Belarus or Kazakhstan.

On December 12, Lukashenka stated that «the enterprise has been nationalized, it is already our enterprise.» Later it turned out that McDonald’s in Belarus was given to a pro-government businessman, the owner of Tabakerka Aleksei Oleksin. Nasha Niva, citing its sources, reported that «they were instructed not to allow the Russians into the market.»

And it is curious that on the same day, December 12, the owner of the Russian «Vkusno i tochka» Aleksandr Govor said at a press conference that they were banned from operating under their brand in Kazakhstan.

«As for Kazakhstan, and where McDonald’s is located, we have no right to be there with the new brand when we sign documents with the parent corporation,» he said at a press conference.

Bottom line

If we look at what is happening with McDonald’s in the two countries, it is obvious that the situation has many similarities. It is quite possible that McDonald’s in Belarus, just like McDonald’s in Kazakhstan, has been banned from buying products in Russia.

It is possible that the measures against the chains in the two countries were considered jointly by the parent McDonald’s. Otherwise, how can we explain the coincidence in the timing of supply problems, the same dates of statements about the suspension of the brand and the cancellation/disallowance of «Vkusno – i tochka» in the local markets?

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