MOSCOW (Reuters) - The successor to McDonald's in Russia is set to add nine more restaurants to its portfolio next month, as a former franchisee of the global hamburger chain agreed to join the new brand, resolving a conundrum for the new owners.
McDonald's Corp ceased operating in Russia soon after Moscow sent its armed forces into Ukraine, and exited fully when it sold all the restaurants it owned to a local licensee in May. Vkusno & tochka ("Tasty and that's it") restaurants started opening in June.
But one franchisee, Razvitie Rost, a subsidiary of Rosinter Restaurants, kept its nine restaurants open for months, a move that displeased Vkusno & tochka boss Oleg Paroev and highlighted how challenging it can be for Western brands to fully extricate their brands.
"As of Dec. 1, Razvitie Rost enterprises will continue their work in Russia under the Vkusno & tochka brand," Rosinter said in a statement.
Rosinter's restaurants, at train stations and airports in Moscow and St Petersburg, continued operating without McDonald's signs, which were covered up. Reuters found some McDonald's packaging still in use after the closure.
"We have now signed agreements with all our franchisee partners and plan to cooperate effectively with them, expanding our business," said Karina Pogosova, Vkusno & tochka's senior vice-president for development and franchising.
(Reporting by Olga Popova, Caleb Davis and Alexander Marrow; Editing by Kevin Liffey)