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American Fast-Food Chains Defy Western Exodus, Remain in Russia

by Nick

In the wake of Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, many major Western fast-food giants shuttered their operations and exited the Russian market. However, a handful of American chains have opted to stay put, continuing to serve their iconic burgers and sandwiches to Russian customers.

McDonald’s, Domino’s Pizza, Starbucks, KFC, Pizza Hut, Hard Rock Cafe, and the Jamie Oliver Group were among the Western brands that chose to withdraw from Russia following the invasion.

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Nevertheless, six American fast-food chains, including Subway, Carl’s Jr., Papa John’s, Costa Coffee, Burger King, and TGI Fridays, have opted to remain operational in Russia. Notably, Subway and Carl’s Jr. have continued their advertising efforts on Russian Instagram accounts throughout the conflict, despite criticism.

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Subway found itself on Ukraine’s list of International Sponsors of Russia’s War due to its continued presence and advertising in Russia. However, both Subway and Carl’s Jr. attribute their activities in Russia to their independent franchise operations in the country, over which they claim limited control.

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Subway, boasting 446 local franchises in Russia, clarified that its operations are overseen by an independent U.S. company, Subway Russia. This separation allows Subway’s headquarters minimal oversight into day-to-day operations and marketing decisions.

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Similarly, Carl’s Jr. indicated that all 17 of its restaurants in Russia operate under franchise agreements, managed independently from the parent company. Despite scrutiny for its continued presence, Carl’s Jr.’s parent company, CKE Restaurants Holdings, emphasized its lack of control over the chain’s Russian Instagram page.

While these American fast-food chains face criticism for their continued operations in Russia amidst geopolitical tensions, they defend their presence as independent franchise operations.

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