Business as Usual? Papa John's Franchise Continues to Operate in Russia
Commenting on the current situation, the owner of Papa John’s master franchise in Russia said that “the vast majority of Russian people are very clearheaded and understand the dark gravity of the situation they’re in.”
While American pizza restaurant chain Papa John’s International recently announced that it was suspending its operations in Russia, some 190 Papa John’s establishments in the country remain open and continue to serve customers, The New York Times reports.
According to the newspaper, this situation stems from the fact that Papa John’s venues in Russia are owned by locals via a franchise agreement with company controlled by Christopher Wynne, a man originally from Colorado who has “lived part time and worked in the country since the early 2000s”.
“The best thing I can do as an individual is show compassion for the people, my employees, franchisees and customers without judging them because of the politicians in power,” Wynne said.
He also observed that internal credit card payment systems in Russia continue to operate normally amid the sanctions imposed against the country over the situation in Ukraine.
“The vast majority of Russian people are very clearheaded and understand the dark gravity of the situation they’re in,” Wynne remarked. “And, at the end of the day, they appreciate a good pizza.”
Wynne did observe however, that consumer confidence in Russia was very low, and that the contraction in Russian economy may put a damper on his plans to open 20 to 40 new restaurants in the country.
Another factor that Wynne said might affect his plans is a possible action that might be taken by the Russian government against US and European brands that paused their operations in Russia recently over the situation in Ukraine.
He did express hope that his company, PJ Western, “will not fall in this category since the business continues to operate,” but suggested that the companies that are closing “will face increased scrutiny from the government”.
Following the launch of a military operation in Ukraine by Moscow last month and the ensuing sanctions imposed against Russia by the United States and its allies, a number of prominent companies, including famous fast food brands such as McDonald’s and KFC, declared that they were suspending operations in Russia.