McDonald's fast food chain restaurants across Kazakhstan had to temporarily halt operations on July 5 due to “technical difficulties”, the company said in a statement following Kazakh social media users, mainly from the capital Nur-Sultan, posting about the sudden widespread closures of McDonald's restaurants online.
The initially unexplained closures inevitably gave rise to intense speculation after the shutdown of McDonald's restaurants in neighbouring Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.
However, this proved unfounded as McDonald's said on July 5 that it was working on bringing the restaurants — most of them in Nur-Sultan — back online.
"Restaurants throughout the country were temporarily closed due to technical difficulties on the side of the fiscal data operator," the company said.
McDonald’s was a late entrant to Kazakhstan, opening the doors of its first restaurant in the capital Astana (now Nur-Sultan) March 2016 — years after fellow fast-food chains KFC and Burger King.
Highlighting the significant of the prominent US chain’s arrival, Kazakh politicians from then president Nursultan Nazarbayev to Adilbek Dzhaksybekov, mayor of the capital city, paid visits to the debut outlet.
The franchise is run by Kazakh businessman Kairat Boranbayev, who has connections to Kazakhstan’s former first family.
Forbes magazine speculated earlier this year that McDonald's closed its doors in Russia, the network in Kazakhstan may experience difficulties, since the Kazakhstani restaurants received more than half of their products from suppliers from Russia.
McDonald’s was one of the iconic western brands that stopped sales in Russia on March 8, along wth PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and Starbucks.
The company announced the closure of its 847 restaurants, including its first location in central Moscow's Pushkin Square that in 1990 became a symbol of flourishing American capitalism in the failing Soviet Union.
One of the local franchisees of the chain, Alexander Govor, later agreed to acquire the Russian business, and to develop it under a new brand.
It was later reported that the Russian fast-food chain will replace the McDonald’s ‘M’ with a new logo. The new trademark is an M comprised of an orange circle and two sticks, intended to resemble a burger and fries.