Fast food restaurants in Islamic countries suffer from pro-Palestinian boycotts

BRands around the world are struggling with the boycott, divestment and sanctions push by pro-Palestinian activists to pressure and punish companies deemed to be supporting Israel’s deadly military operation in Gaza. (BDS) are feeling the effects of the growing movement. But the impact has been most pronounced in Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, where local business owners have also faced backlash over allegations that their businesses have close ties to Muslims. Regardless, boycotts at some fast food chains are beginning to pose an existential threat to franchisees. Israel.

QSR Brands, which operates KFC franchises in Malaysia and other parts of Southeast Asia, announced on Monday that it would temporarily close more than 100 KFC stores nationwide, local media reported. reportas it aims to “manage increasing business costs and focus on high-engagement zones.”

The move comes amid a boycott movement against fried chicken restaurants across Malaysia, with activists criticizing its US-based parent company Yum!.brand of Invest in Israeli startups.

“BDS is the most effective way for people of conscience to put their solidarity with Palestinian human rights into action,” Luka Abufallah, North American coordinator for the BDS National Committee, told TIME in February.

Meanwhile, local franchisees of the affected fast-food chains say the boycott will only harm their communities and employees.

“Contributing positively to the Malaysian community, maintaining the brand love for KFC and protecting the brand’s employees are all priorities for the organization,” QSR said in a statement, adding that among its 18,000 employees in Malaysia, It added that about 85% are Muslim. “We firmly believe in our rakyat.” [countrymen] They will recognize our Malaysian roots, our integrity and our efforts to contribute to the Malaysian ecosystem. ”

KFC is not alone in its predicament. Here, we introduce some of the fast food chains that have come under criticism and their situations.

Kentucky Fried Chicken

In addition to facing headwinds in Malaysia, KFC also faces serious headwinds in the Middle East and North Africa, where pro-Palestinian sentiment is rising.Algeria’s first KFC restaurant opened earlier this month temporary closed, just days after its groundbreaking opening, pro-Palestinian protesters demonstrated outside the store. Americana Restaurants International is a major F&B company that operates approximately 2,500 stores in the Middle East and North Africa, including KFC, Pizza Hut, and Krispy Kreme.cut almost 100 jobs early this year and report Revenue is expected to decline 15% in the final quarter of 2023.

mcdonalds

“The most significant impact we’re seeing is in the Middle East and Islamic countries like Indonesia and Malaysia,” said Chris Kemp, CEO of McDonald’s, the fast food giant’s global headquarters. Chinski says. Said Earlier this month, the company identified itself as perhaps the biggest target of boycotts around the world. A report has been issued More than 40,000 restaurants around the world are offering free meals to military personnel in the wake of the Oct. 7 attacks, even though many of them are locally owned and operated. number.

McDonald’s international sales rose 0.7% in the final quarter of 2023, but that was still far from the 16.5% growth seen in the same period last year.

In a February statement, McDonald’s told TIME that the company “does not provide funding or support to any government involved in this dispute,” adding that “actions from our local development licensee business partners are a matter of concern to McDonald’s. “It was done independently and without consent or approval.”

However, Abu Farah told Time magazine that “the actions of McDonald’s franchisees cannot be separated from the company’s global operations,” adding that the company does not believe that “franchisees have engaged in conduct that tarnishes McDonald’s reputation.” “We have a responsibility to ensure that this is not the case,” he added. This is a brand with serious human rights violations. ”

Earlier this month, McDonald’s, in a move that appeared to appease its critics, announced The company announced it would take back ownership of 225 stores in Israel and buy back franchises from Aronyar Limited, which operated McDonald’s restaurants in the country for more than 30 years. behind the decision This is to provide free food to the Israeli army.

McDonald’s franchises in Muslim-majority countries include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, and Malaysia. sever their relationship Statement released on suspicion of pro-Israel deny It has pledged millions of dollars to ties with Israel and humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza.Some McDonald’s branches Egypt and Indonesiahas also been spotted by social media users adorned with the Palestinian flag.

Last year, McDonald’s Malaysia explained As a “100% Muslim-owned organization,” it denounced “false and defamatory statements” that linked fast food chains to Israel’s war in Gaza and called out local chapters of the BDS movement. filed a lawsuit for $1.3 million. Business impact.However, this lawsuit caused further public backlash, and McDonald’s Malaysia Dropped The company filed a lawsuit in March after mediating with a pro-Palestinian group, and announced that it would continue to support the Palestinian people through humanitarian aid and fundraising efforts by its employees.

“Our stance remains firm. In a statement regarding the withdrawal of the case, a McDonald’s Malaysia spokesperson said: “We do not support or be complicit in any conflict or war,” adding that the agreement “allows all parties to move forward.” , allowing us to focus on finding solutions that uphold justice.” ”

Starbucks

Starbucks came under fire from activists last October. sued US labor unions protested over pro-Palestinian social media posts made on union accounts. (The union responded with its own lawsuit.)

Since then, the coffee chain has become the new target of a global boycott movement.

In October, young members of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party staged Sit-in protests are taking place in front of Starbucks stores across the country.

In Indonesia, Starbucks is owned by local company PT Sari Coffee Indonesia, an employee said. NDMT Despite numerous promotions, business performance was very poor, and business hours were shortened. Meanwhile, Berjaya Food, a Starbucks franchise in Malaysia, to cause Revenues in the final quarter of 2023 fell by 38.2% due to the boycott.

Alshaya Group operates approximately 2,000 Starbucks stores and other brands in the Middle East and North Africa. announced In January, it closed dozens of stores in Egypt, including Starbucks, and laid off about 400 employees, citing “challenges faced by our overseas operations.”The company cut another 2,000 jobs in March, with most of them focused on the Starbucks business, people familiar with the matter said. Reuters The company has been hit hard by the boycott.

domino pizza

The pizza chain Domino’s Pizza named Amid rumors that Israeli outlets also provide free food to the Israeli military, BDS activists say one of the companies “remained silent even when its Israeli branches/franchisees supported genocide.” It was taken up as

Domino’s Pizza Enterprises, based in Australia and serving Asia-Pacific and Europe, gained that share. fall down 30% in January. CEO Don May Said The pizza chain’s slump in sales in Asia is blamed on anti-American sentiment. “It’s well known that US brands in Asia, primarily talking to Malaysia in this regard, are being influenced by what’s happening in the Middle East right now,” he told analysts. Told.

However, performance across the market is uneven, with pizza chains report U.S. sales increased significantly in the first quarter of this year due to changes to our loyalty program and distribution system.

burger king

The activists called In response to Burger King’s worldwide boycott of Israeli stores, free food and drinks to the Israeli army. Burger King locations have also been found to be targets of attacks fueled by anti-Israel anger. In late October, a Turkish man stung An employee at a Burger King restaurant claimed the food was contaminated with “baby blood.” A week later, the window of another Burger King restaurant in Türkiye Shattered A man criticized the chain for its alleged support for Israel.

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