McDonald's suspends business in Russia. Here's why it's a big deal

New York (CNN Business)Burger King is the latest fast food chain to pull corporate support from its businesses in Russia.

Restaurant Brands International, which owns the burger chain, said Thursday it “has suspended all of its corporate support for the Russian market, including operations, marketing and supply chain.” The company is also stopping investment and expansion in the region.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that Burger King restaurants will be closed in Russia, however. The chain’s roughly 800 locations there are “fully franchised and managed by a local master franchisee,” the company said. That means RBI (QSR) cannot simply pull the plug on those restaurants, as other brands, including McDonald’s, have done in Russia. Burger King said it is committed to “redirecting any profits from franchised operations to humanitarian aid for Ukrainian refugees.”

    “BK Russia is a standalone business owned and operated by our franchisees in the country,” RBI said in a statement to CNN. “We have long-standing legal agreements that are not easily changeable.”

      A Burger King at a food court in a shopping center in Moscow.
      The company also owns Tim Hortons, Popeyes and Firehouse Subs restaurants, but those chains don’t have locations in Russia, RBI said.

      The announcement follows similar ones by multiple restaurant, consumer goods and other firms, which are distancing themselves from the Russian market due to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
      This week, McDonald’s (MCD) — which operates most of its roughly 850 locations in Russia — said it would close them temporarily. Starbucks (SBUX) said that its licensed partner in the country “has agreed to immediately pause store operations,” adding that it was also stopping shipments of its products to Russia.
      Yum Brands (YUM), which owns KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and the Habit Grill, also said it is working with its operators to close restaurants there.
      The company is “suspending operations of KFC company-owned restaurants in Russia and finalizing an agreement to suspend all Pizza Hut restaurant operations in Russia, in partnership with its master franchisee,” Yum Brands said in a statement.

        Papa Johns said it “has suspended all corporate operations in Russia,” including operational, marketing and business support in the market.
        The pizza chain added that in Russia, “all restaurants are owned by independent franchisees, and a master franchisee who controls operations.” Papa Johns currently receives no royalties from those stores, the company said.
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