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McDonald’s will buy all 225 restaurants from Israel franchise following pro-Palestinian boycott

In Business
April 05, 2024

Jeff Greenberg | Universal Images Group | Getty Images

McDonald’s signed a deal to purchase all 225 of the restaurants that comprise its Israel franchise, the American fast-food chain announced, following months of dramatically lower sales due to pro-Palestinian boycott action amid the Israel-Hamas war.

The restaurant outlets in Israel have been owned by local licensee Alonyal Limited, which is owned by Israeli businessman Omri Padan, for more than 30 years.

“An agreement to sell Alonyal to McDonald’s Corporation has been signed,” the McDonald’s statement said Thursday. “Upon completion of the transaction, McDonald’s Corporation will own Alonyal Limited’s restaurants and operations, and employees will be retained on equivalent terms.” The company did not disclose the purchase amount.

McDonald’s reported its first revenue miss in nearly four years in February, hit by weak sales growth in its division that includes the Middle East. Consumers around the world but particularly in Arab and Muslim-majority countries have boycotted the brand over what they perceive to be its support for Israel, following the move by Israel’s franchise branch to provide free McDonald’s meals to Israeli soldiers following the Hamas-led terror attacks of Oct. 7 that killed roughly 1,200 people in Israel and took a further 253 hostage.

The Israeli military response has killed more than 32,000 people in the blockaded Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian health authorities, and triggered what the U.N. and World Health Organization warn is impending famine for more than half a million people.

In January, McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski described a “meaningful business impact” in the chain’s Middle East market and some areas beyond the region as a result of the war and what he called “associated misinformation” about the company.

“We are dismayed by the disinformation and inaccurate reports regarding our position in response to the conflict in the Middle East,” McDonald’s Corporation said in a November statement. “McDonald’s Corporation is not funding or supporting any governments involved in this conflict, and any actions from our local Developmental Licensee business partners were made independently without McDonalds’ content or approval.”

The burger giant’s franchises in several Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Jordan published statements attempting to disassociate themselves from the Israeli franchise while also pledging funds and aid to Gaza. It didn’t do much to help, however; according to two sources with knowledge of the matter, sales for McDonald’s franchises in several Arab countries plunged between 50% and 90% month-on-month following the boycott.

In Lebanon, protesters attacked and vandalized local McDonald’s restaurants, and crowds of pro-Palestinian protesters in London surrounded some of the chain’s branches shouting “shame on you.”

“In regard to the news that McDonald’s in Israel was donating meals. We affirm that it was an individual decision on their part,” Saudi Arabia’s McDonald’s franchise said in a statement in October. “Neither global McDonald’s nor us nor any other country had a role or relationship with that decision, neither directly nor indirectly.”

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