Siberian tycoon is behind new $44 million franchise agreement with McDonald's.
McDonalds in Tyumen, Western Siberia. Picture: The Siberian Times
For years Siberia was one of the few McDonald's-free places on the globe, but now this is all changing, after a successful eastward tilt by rivals Burger King.
Still, it has taken sometime for the globe's largest hamburger fast food chain to get the measure of the world's largest region.
Now, 20 McDonald's outlets will open in 2016 - thanks to a franchising agreement disclosed last week. The new restaurants will be in Kemerovo, Novosibirsk, Tomsk and Altai regions.
They will add to the original Siberian McDonald's in the city of Tyumen, and a few others, for example in the largest city, Novosibirsk, where there are six outlets.
'We are confident that the use of the franchising scheme will be the next step in the successful development of our business and will contribute to a further strengthening of the McDonald's brand in Russia,' said Khamzat Khasbulatov, McDonald's Russia chief executive.
The giant has put its eastward expansion in the hands of an experienced Siberian tycoon, it is understood. The franchise agreement - starting next month and valid until 2035 - was signed with Inrusinvest, which is linked to Novokuznetsk-based businessman Alexandr Govor.
The first restaurant will open next month in Novokuznetsk shopping mall Planeta, undaunted by the strained relations between Russia and the US over the crisis in Ukraine. Inrusinvest is described as a development company, operating in Kemerovo and Novosibirsk regions, as well as in Altai region and the Republic of Altai.
It has also developed a network of petrol stations through a daughter company, and owns hotels plus companies that excavate materials for construction industry.
Govor, born in 1960, and a partner in 2007 sold a share in a large coal operator Yuzhkuzbassugol for around $500 million, say reports.
He then created a new export-oriented coal company Sibenergougol, which is now run by his son Roman.
He has a lakeside holiday home in the Altai Mountains to which he travels by helicopter.
McDonalds has 500-plus restaurants in 120 Russian cities. Its existing restaurants in Novosibirsk will also be managed by the new Siberian partner.
While McDonald's is seen as a symbol of the US, some 85% of its supplies in Russia are from domestic producers.
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