Burger King franchise still operating in Russia despite pledge to quit over Ukraine invasion

Burger King is still operating in Russia despite pledging to leave the country over a year ago  (PA Archive)
Burger King is still operating in Russia despite pledging to leave the country over a year ago (PA Archive)

The part-owner of Burger King’s franchise in Russia is still operating in the country despite pledging to leave over a year ago.

Restaurant Brands International (RBI), which owns 15 per cent of the fast food company’s franchise business in Russia, pledged in March 2022 that it would begin to leave Russia amid the war in Ukraine.

But in a statement to the BBC, the business said it had “no new updates to share at this time" on its exit more than 18 months on.

The business has cited its complicated franchise arrangement for the delays in leaving Russia, saying the deal is a joint venture with three other partners for some 800 restaurants.

It said attempts to unilaterally quit “would ultimately require the support of Russian authorities on the ground and we know that will not practically happen anytime soon”.

But campaigners have accused it of using the franchise arrangement as a “convenient excuse” not to take quicker action.

Mark Dixon of the Moral Rating Agency, which lobbies firms not to do business in Russia, said Burger King “needs to accept the legal risk of doing the right thing” in quitting the contract, saying: “No company should be obliged to dance with the devil.”

“Burger King should disclose what specific actions it has actually taken to close the operation, beyond simply asking its partner which obviously is never going to work,” he said.

Other major Western brands quit the country following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

McDonalds sold its 850 restaurants in Russia, while Starbucks also completely exited last year, withdrawing its 130 stores.

According to research by the Yale School of Management, which tracks companies operating in Russia, some 1,000 multinational companies have fully left Russia.

However, the research states others are still clinging on, such as storage brand Tupperware, the BT Group, and several airlines including Etihad.

A Restaurant Brands International spokesperson said: “As we previously stated, we suspended all corporate support for the Russian market in March of 2022, including operations, marketing, and supply chain support in addition to refusing approvals for new investment and expansion.

“RBI has not made any profits from Burger King in Russia since early in 2022.”