US fast food brands vulnerable to shutdowns in Russia amid Ukraine conflict

McDonald's and KFC each own hundreds of locations in Russia

American fast-food giants with hundreds of locations in Russia could take a hit if the country decides to shut down U.S.-based brands as a way to retaliate against sanctions from the West, as tensions escalate over Russian President Vladimir Putin's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

McDonald's, KFC, and Papa John's are particularly vulnerable, according to a new report.

Close-up McDonalds outdoor sign against blue sky

Close-up McDonalds outdoor sign against blue sky (iStock)

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
MCD MCDONALD'S CORP. 252.29 -0.67 -0.26%
YUM YUM! BRANDS INC. 117.33 +0.62 +0.53%
PZZA PAPA JOHN'S INTERNATIONAL INC. 85.47 -1.13 -1.30%

The New York Post reported Monday that the McDonald's corporation – rather than franchisees – owns "the vast majority" of the 847 McDonald's locations in Russia, and another 108 in Ukraine.

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Ukrainian stores have already been shuttered for safety during the attack, and if Russia forces McDonald's locations to shut down it could have a significant impact – altogether, the locations between the two countries account for $2.1 billion or 9% of the company's global revenues.

Colonel Sanders' image on bucket-shaped sign above KFC franchise

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Meanwhile, KFC, owned by Yum! Brands, has right at 1,000 restaurants in Russia, and Papa John's has roughly 185.

The reason analysts are looking at Russian retaliation via fast food shutdowns as a possibility is because the country has done it before in the not-so-distant past.

Papa John's

Photo Credit: iStock (iStock / iStock)

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During Russia's last aggression toward Ukraine in 2014, Russian authorities shut down several McDonald's locations in Moscow after the American company closed its locations in Crimea following Putin's seizure of the Ukrainian territory.