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Former McDonald’s Restaurants Reopen in Kazakhstan

By Vusala Abbasova January 30, 2023

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Former McDonald’s restaurants in Kazakhstan no longer display company’s world-famous emblem. The only thing resembling original emblem is a yellow capital “M” letter in the words “My Otkryty” (“We Are Open”). / Ruslan Pryanikov / AFP

Most of the restaurants which used to operate under the McDonald’s brand in Kazakhstan have reopened with no branding, weeks after the famous American fast-food chain exited the country over disruptions in meat supplies triggered by the Russia-Ukraine war.

The announcement came from Food Solutions KZ, the company that managed the local McDonald’s franchise.

“Restaurants in Aktobe and Atyrau will open later this week,” Interfax quoted the statement, adding that 21 out of 24 restaurants across the country are now open.

“The chain’s last restaurant in Astana is scheduled to open on June 1, with six out of seven restaurants currently functioning in the capital.”

The restaurants no longer display the McDonald’s emblem. The only thing resembling the original emblem is a yellow capital “M” letter in the words “My Otkryty” (“We Are Open”).

According to the report, the company will soon reveal the updated menu and name for the restaurants that have been operating without a name.

In early January, the local operator said McDonald’s would close its doors in Kazakhstan due to supply restrictions. According to sources, Kazakh companies were unable to purchase meat patties from local or European suppliers, as higher prices and costs to transport goods across the country would have negatively impacted their businesses.

Before Russia began its military campaign in Ukraine, McDonald’s in Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus relied on the same suppliers.

On January 10, Asset Mashanov, who heads Food Solutions KZ, revealed the company’s plan to resume the work of restaurants which employed more than 2,000 Kazakhstanis under a local brand. He also made it clear that Kazakhstan has no plans to replace McDonald’s with a Russian-owned chain of restaurants “Vkusno i Tochka,” which was supposed to be an adequate substitute for McDonald’s in Russia.

Meanwhile, in mid-January, Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Justice reported that the Sistema PBO, the company running the Russian fast-food chain “Vkusno i Tochka,” filed an application to register its brand’s trademark in Kazakhstan.

McDonald’s pulled out of Russia soon after Moscow launched what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, eventually selling its restaurants — more than 800 — to Russian businessman Alexander Govor. Later in June, several of its outlets reopened under the brand “Vkusno i Tochka,” which translates as “Tasty and that’s it.” Along with McDonald’s, dozens of international companies have abandoned or scaled back their operations in Russia.

Meanwhile, Kazakhstan has established itself as a new suitable location for companies that want to keep their presence in Eurasia amid the current geopolitical developments. In mid-July, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev instructed the government to create favorable conditions for the relocation of international businesses that have left Russia. He stressed that the measure should boost the production of goods.

With a population of slightly more than 19 million, Kazakhstan is the wealthiest and largest country in Central Asia. For foreign partners, Kazakhstan remains one of the main investment partners in the region. In the first nine months of 2022, Kazakhstan’s economy absorbed more than $22 billion of foreign investments, which is 17.8 percent more than in the same period a year earlier. In 2021, the total amount of foreign direct investment in Kazakhstan reached $23.8 billion.