Skip to main content

Outside a Burger King restaurant in Moscow, Russia, Sept. 15, 2015.MAXIM ZMEYEV/Reuters

Toronto-based Restaurant Brands International Inc. has suspended corporate support to its Burger King restaurants in Russia, the company announced on Thursday.

That means that RBI will cut off marketing spending and will not allow its own suppliers to ship to stores in Russia. However, franchisees have some local suppliers and are currently keeping Burger King restaurants in Russia open.

The company, which also owns Tim Hortons and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, is among the major brands that have faced pressure to reconsider their operations in Russia in light of the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier this week, global consumer giants including McDonald’s Corp., Starbucks Corp., The Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and packaged-goods maker Unilever PLC announced that they would suspend business in Russia.

Starbucks – which like Burger King, does not have corporate-owned and operated locatons there – reached an agreement with its licensed partner in Russia to pause operations at 130 stores, the company announced Tuesday.

In the meantime, more than 800 franchised Burger King locations in Russia have remained open. On Tuesday, the company said that it would redirect any profits the parent company receives from those franchisees to the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR. Chief corporate officer Duncan Fulton also wrote in a statement on Tuesday that the company would withhold approvals for expansion in the market, contrasting a statement from the chain’s master franchisee in Russia who told state-owned news agency RIA Novosti last week that the chain planned to open more locations this year.

But on Thursday, the company issued a follow-up announcement that it would suspend “all corporate support for the Russian market,” including marketing and supply chain support.

While Starbucks has managed to close non-corporate-owned stores in Russia, RBI is not the only fast-food company that has been juggling its franchisee agreements with the pressure to suspend operations there. Yum Brand Inc., the parent company of Pizza Hut and KFC, said on Tuesday that it was finalizing an agreement with its master franchisee to close 50 Pizza Hut locations in Russia, but that it would only close company-owned KFCs, which account for 70 of the chain’s 1,000 locations there.

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.

Report an error

Editorial code of conduct

Tickers mentioned in this story