Burger King owner says Russia operator has ‘refused’ to shut shops

Credit: PA

The owner of Burger King has said the operator of its 800 stores in Russia has “refused” to close them.

The president of Restaurant Brands International (RBI), which owns Burger King and has operated its restaurants in Russia for a decade in a joint venture which includes Alexander Kolobov, said the company was attempting to withdraw from the Russian market following the invasion of Ukraine.

RBI president David Shear wrote in an open letter to employees: “We contacted the main operator of the business and demanded the suspension of Burger King restaurant operations in Russia. He has refused to do so.

“We suspended all corporate support for the Russian market, including operations, marketing, and supply chain support in addition to refusing approvals for new investment and expansion.”

Mr Shear said the company’s “complicated” agreements with overseas partners meant it was unable to walk away from its Russia business, adding any changes “would ultimately require the support of Russian authorities on the ground and we know that practically will not happen any time soon”.

The joint venture, which RBI owns 15% of, with Mr Kobolov also includes a Ukrainian investment fund and VTB Capital, an affiliate of Russia’s second-largest financial institution VTB Bank.

VTB Bank has been sanctioned by the UK, the US and numerous European countries over the invasion.

Mr Shear said: “We committed to redirecting any profits we receive from the business, including our ownership stake, to the United Nations’ refugee agency (UNHCR) and made an immediate donation of 1 million dollars (£760,000) toward that commitment.

"We’ve also worked with franchisees from more than 25 countries to distribute 2 million dollars (£1.5m) of free meal coupons for Burger King restaurants to NGOs supporting Ukrainian refugees.”