KFC faces mounting pressure to shutter its 1,000 Russian restaurants after McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Starbucks all halted business there indefinitely because of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The chain is the only significant US-owned fast food chain still operating in Russia, after its rivals announced plans to suspend business there indefinitely.
KFC is owned by Yum! Brands, a Louisville, Kentucky-headquartered operation which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and whose CEO David Gibbs has been with the company since 1989. Yum! also operates 50 Pizza Hut locations across Russia.
Pepsi, one of the first Western products that was allowed in the former Soviet Union, will no longer be sold in Russia, said PepsiCo, which will continue the sale of essential items such as baby formula.
Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, which has a huge presence in Russia through a licensed partner that operates 10 bottling plants there, said in a statement that it is suspending all business there.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson also confirmed in a note to global staff that the iconic coffee chain would be closing its 130 locations in Russia and halting all sales, but continuing to pay its 2,000 employees there. All the shuttered cafes are run by licensed owner-operators, rather than by the Seattle-based coffee giant itself.
Meanwhile, McDonald’s also said it will close its 850 locations in Russia, but continue paying its 62,000 employees there ‘who have poured their heart and soul into our McDonald’s brand.’ None of the brands who have pulled out have given any indication as to when they may resume business.
The moves leave KFC, owned by Kentucky-based Yum Brands, as the final major US quick-service restaurant chain still operating in Russia.
In a statement to DailyMail.com on Tuesday, Yum Brands said that it is suspending all investment and development of new restaurants in Russia, and that it will donate all profits from operations in Russia to humanitarian efforts.
‘Like so many across the world, we are shocked and saddened by the tragic events unfolding in Ukraine,’ a Yum Brands spokesman said.
But so far the company has resisted calls to close restaurants in Russia, which include about 1,000 KFC locations and 50 Pizza Huts.
Most of those locations are operated through franchise or licensing agreements, which may complicate the company’s ability to shut them down.
Coca-Cola said its business in Russia and Ukraine contributed about 1 to 2 percent of the company’s net operating revenue in 2021.
‘Our hearts are with the people who are enduring unconscionable effects from these tragic events in Ukraine,’ the company said. ‘We will continue to monitor and assess the situation as circumstances evolve.’