KFC closes more than 100 locations in Malaysia as part of a boycott supporting Palestine

This image shows an empty KFC outlet in Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (File photo)

Due to the current conflict in Gaza, KFC has scaled back its operations in Malaysia and temporarily closed roughly 20% of its restaurants. This move follows months of steadfast pro-Palestine boycotts of US-affiliated companies.


According to the Chinese-language daily Nanyang Siang Pau, QSR Brands, the company that owns and runs the KFC fast-food franchise in Malaysia, has decided to halt operations at 108 of its locations across the country. This decision was made after consulting Google Maps.


The KFC locations that have had their status altered to "temporarily closed" are displayed on the maps. According to an unnamed QSR source, the company views the boycott as a chance to shut down some of the KFC restaurant operations that have been burdening its balance sheet.


In a statement released on April 29, QRS stated that it had taken preemptive steps to temporarily close locations "in response to challenging economic conditions" in order to control rising operating expenses and concentrate on the busier KFC locations.


"As part of a tactical strategy to optimize resources in trade zones with higher customer engagement, employees from the affected stores were offered the opportunity to relocate to operating stores," the business stated.


"KFC is not included on the list of companies targeted by BDS. However, a lot of Malaysians believe that KFC and other American fast-food chains are connected to Israel, according to Professor Mohd Nazari Ismail, the head of the pro-Palestinian organization Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Malaysia.


Since the beginning of the Gaza War on October 7, 2023, KFC and a few other US-based companies, like Starbucks and McDonald's, have also been the target of boycotts because of their alleged ties to Israel.


In addition, QSR runs over 480 Pizza Hut locations in Malaysia and Singapore, as well as KFC locations in Singapore, Brunei, and Cambodia.


The worst-hit state is Northeast Kelantan, where up to 21 shops, or nearly 80% of them, have stopped operating. Johor has 15 outlets, according to Nanyang Siang Pau.


Ten of the 11 temporarily closed branches are in Shah Alam, the Malay majority state of Malaysia's most industrialized state, Selangor.


KFC changed its branding strategy when the boycott started in October 2023, highlighting on fliers and menu boards that Johor Corporation, a subsidiary of the Johor state government, is the company's owner.


"In the fourth quarter of last year, QSR changed its branding strategy to become more Islamic on its website in an effort to lessen the impact of the boycott," the insider claimed. According to the company's website, it offers "employment opportunities for over 30,000 employees, of whom 86% are Muslims."


Eleven stores have closed in the state of Kedah, as reported by Nanyang Siang Pau. Since the start of the boycott, KFC employees have applied for jobs with him, according to Alor Setar, Kedah entrepreneur Amri Hasim. The fast food chain has lowered its working hours from 24 to 12 hours a day.


They informed me that their pay had been cut in half. Their monthly base pay was RM1,500 (S$430), and they could make up to RM2,000 with overtime. Currently, their take-home salary ranges from RM600 to RM700, according to the 43-year-old, who manages a family business that makes soap from goat milk.


Malaysia is home to more than 600 KFC locations, per the QSR website.


Since the beginning of the Gaza War on October 7, 2023, KFC and a few other US-based companies, like Starbucks and McDonald's, have been the target of boycotts because to their alleged ties to Israel.


400 Starbucks locations across Malaysia are owned by KL-listed Berjaya Food, which recorded a net loss of RM42.6 million from October to December 2023. Vincent Tan, the company's owner, is apparently thinking about going private.


In addition, QSR runs over 480 Pizza Hut locations in Malaysia and Singapore, as well as KFC locations in Singapore, Brunei, and Cambodia.


According to Nanyang Siang Pau, the state of Kelantan in the northeast is the worst-affected, with up to 21 outlets—or over 80%—halting operations. Johor has 15 outlets, which is next in line.


Ten of the eleven temporarily closed branches are in Malay-majority areas in Selangor, the most industrialized state in Malaysia.


In an effort to lessen the impact of the boycott, KFC changed its branding strategy after it started in October 2023. Flyers and signs on menu boards now highlight the company's ownership by Johor Corporation, a division of the Johor state government.


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