Earlier this week reports began to circulate that Burger King was making plans to move into the newly Russian annexed area of Crimea. Very quickly Burger King officials stepped in to deny those rumors outright. So were the initial reports based on unfounded rumor, or was it simply a case of miscommunication? According to NPR, what actually happened was that a Russian Burger King franchisee spoke out-of-turn.
A week after McDonald’s became the second major retailer to pull out of Crimea citing “manufacturing reasons independent of McDonald’s”, Russian Burger King franchisee Dmitry Medovy told Itar-Tass that Burger King would be stepping in to fill the fast food void. The story was quickly picked up by sites like The Washington Post.
ITAR-Tass news agency quoted Dmitri Medovy, the CEO of Burger King Russia, as saying:
“We plan to enter the Crimean market, but I cannot say when exactly it will happen or how many outlets the company will have.”
Burger King entered Russia in 2010 and quickly moved up to the number 2 fast food spot, and has been battling with ‘Mickey D’s’ for fast food supremacy ever since. With the competition level as high as it is, and an actual Burger King franchisee making the statement, most assumed there was some validity to what Medovy was saying. But not so fast says Burger King Woldwide officials.
Burger King spokesperson Bryson Thornton emailed NPR in response to the reports of Burger King heading into Crimea, saying:
“Neither Burger King Worldwide, nor any of its franchisees, have plans to open Burger King restaurants in Crimea.”
Thornton was then asked if the earlier reports had been incorrect. His response was subtle, but obviously intended to make clear that Medovy was speaking on matters beyond him. Thornton said that Dmitri’s statement was “a non-committal, off-the-cuff statement made by our Russian franchisee that was reported as if it were a plan.”
Whether or not the McDonald’s pull-out or Burger King‘s lack of interest in entering Crimea are politically motivated is up for debate. In an official statement, McDonald’s cited “logistical difficulties” as the reason for it’s exit from the area.
“Like many other multi-national companies, McDonald’s is currently evaluating potential business and regulatory implications which may result from the evolving situation in Crimea,” the company said in a statement, Reuters reported.
The “evolving situation”, of course, includes (or perhaps consists entirely of) Crimea’s split from Ukraine and Russian occupation. That same “evolving situation” is also a likely reason for Burger King‘s current lack of interest in setting up shop there.