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The Middle East crisis is causing problems for McDonald's

CEO Chris Kempczinski said that the war and “misinformation” are having a “meaningful business impact” at the chain’s Middle East restaurants and elsewhere.
McDonald's Israel
A McDonald's in Tel Aviv. | Photo: Shutterstock.

McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski on Thursday acknowledged that the Middle East war is having an impact on the company’s sales in the region and elsewhere.

In a system message sent on Thursday, Kempczinski decried “misinformation” that is helping drive that impact and called the situation “disheartening.”

“I also recognize that several markets in the Middle East and some outside the region are experiencing a meaningful business impact and associated misinformation that is affecting brands like McDonald’s,” he wrote. “This is disheartening and ill-founded.”

Kempczinski is the second CEO of a major U.S. restaurant chain that has taken the step of decrying violence in the wake of the Israel-Palestine war, while complaining about misinformation on the company’s views on that conflict.

Last month, Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan made similar comments in a letter to his own system, which has seen considerable vandalism at stores around the country.

McDonald’s and Starbucks are the two largest restaurant chains in the world, based on both sales and unit count. Both chains found themselves engulfed in the debate surrounding the conflict. It has played a serious role in Starbucks’ battle with its union.

At McDonald’s, according to reports, the conflict divided some franchisees operating in the region, with some operators donating to Israeli Defense Forces and others donating to relief efforts in Gaza.

In his letter, Kempczinski emphasized his support for communities impacted by the war and decried the violence affecting those communities.

“Our hearts remain with the communities and families impacted by the war in the Middle East,” he said. “We abhor violence of any kind and firmly stand against hate speech, and we will always proudly open our doors to everyone.”

Kempczinski also noted that the company’s franchisees are local citizens who support their communities.

“In every country we operate, including in Muslim countries, McDonald’s is proudly represented by local owner-operators who work tirelessly to serve and support their communities while employing thousands of their fellow citizens,” he wrote. “That local community connection is the genius of the McDonald’s system.”

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