KFC And Pizza Hut Are Leaving Russia. Here's What That Actually Means

In a recent announcement, Yum! Brands, Inc. (the restaurant group behind popular American fast food chains like KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell) updated international fans on its plans to remove franchise locations from Russia. According to Russian media outlet Kommersant, via Reuters, Yum! has sold all Russian Pizza Hut locations to a local proprietor called Noi-M for 300 million rubles (equivalent to $4.92 million). The new owner is reportedly actively working to rebrand the franchise.

Now, Yum! is looking to do the same with its Russian KFC restaurants and, per the announcement, the company has nearly completed the transfer of ownership over its estimated 1,000 Russian KFC stores to another local proprietor (via NASDAQ). Rather than actually closing their doors for good, the chains are being sold off and rebranded to avoid political affiliation — and they aren't the only chains to do it, either.

Fast food brands take a stand

Other major fast food brands are cutting ties with Russia, like McDonald's, which did so earlier this year. In an official statement, McDonald's explained, "The humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, and the precipitating unpredictable operating environment, have led McDonald's to conclude that continued ownership of the business in Russia is no longer tenable, nor is it consistent with McDonald's values." The chain sold its Russian locations to restaurateur Alexander Govor, who rebranded the burger giant with a new name and logo.

A week after McDonald's announced its decision, Starbucks also withdrew operations from Russia, selling off 130 stores, per HuffPost. The coffee empire had originally announced plans in March to continue business in Russia, but to donate all profits to humanitarian relief in Ukraine. According to Spectrum News 1, Yum! Brands Inc. initially had the same plan, even making a $1 million donation to the Red Cross and establishing the Yum! Disaster Relief Fund to support franchise employees in Ukraine. But after McDonald's officially pulled out of the country and Starbucks redirected its course of action, Yum! decided to do the same. In March, Yum! announced that it would be fully withdrawing its operations from Russia (via Reuters).

Following the recent Yum! announcement, chicken and pizza fans in Russia will still be able to get their hands on the fast food products, but they'll very soon have a new name.