Over 100 KFC Outlets in M’sia Closed Temporarily Due to Boycott Linked to Gaza Conflict

Those in Malaysia who wanted to eat KFC found that their Kentucky Fried Chicken stores were Kentucky Fried Closed when more than 100 outlets across the country shuttered stores temporarily.

Nearly 20% of KFC Outlets in Malaysia Temporarily Closed

Chinese-daily Nanyang Siau Pau reported, based on information from Google Maps, that 108 outlets of the fast food chain had ceased operations in Malaysia. Kelantan state was the worst-hit, with almost 80% of their KFC stores, or up to 21 outlets, closed.

According to the report, stores were also shut in the 12 other states:

  • 15 stores in Johor
  • 14 stores in Selangor
  • 11 stores in Kedah
  • 10 stores each in Terengganu and Pahang
  • 9 stores in Perak
  • 6 stores in Negeri Sembilan
  • 5 stores in Penang
  • 2 stores each in Perlis, Malacca, and Sarawak
  • 1 store in Sabah

Of the 14 stores shuttered in Selangor, three of them are in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.

According to QSR Brands, which owns and operates KFC across Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and Cambodia, there are over 600 KFC outlets in Malaysia.

About 20% of outlets there have been temporarily closed.

Closure Due To Challenging Economic Conditions

QSR Brands said that in response to challenging economic conditions, it had taken proactive measures to temporarily shutter stores to manage increasing business costs and focus on high engagement trade zones.

In a statement on 29 April, QSR Brands said that employees from affected outlets were offered the opportunity to relocate to busier operating stores as part of the company’s re-optimisation efforts.

“As a company that has been serving Malaysians for over 50 years, the focus remains on providing quality products and services to customers, while contributing positively to the Malaysian economy through job security for 18,000 team members in Malaysia, of which, approximately 85 per cent are Muslims,” they said.

Boycotts, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) Movement

The sudden closure is connected to boycotts against US-linked companies linked to the country’s stance in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

The Palestine-led Boycotts, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) movement website says: “The BDS movement works to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law.”

The “Boycotts” part of the movement involves withdrawing support for companies that are supporting or perceived to be linked to Israel’s ongoing military offensive in Gaza.

Companies like Starbucks have been feeling the effects of this movement, though the company is not listed on the official BDS list.

Like Starbucks, KFC is also not on the official BDS list.

It is, however, suffering from boycotts as many Malaysians see any American fast-food operator to be related to Israel due to former’s support for the latter.

BDS Movement is Serious In Malaysia

The boycott has been really serious in Malaysia, with netizens even taking pictures of customers at stores of “blacklisted” US-based brands like McDonald’s and KFC, and posting them online.

Two weeks ago, Free Malaysia Today reported that netizens had been labelling those in the aforementioned pictures as “dogs” on social media.

One individual was allegedly insulted by a group of men when he went to a McDonald’s outlet in Kuantan, and was threatened to be hit with a helmet when he left.

A Starbucks outlet in Tawau, Sabah, was vandalised with the words “free Palestine” and “boikot (“boycott” in Malay)” spray-painted on the store’s exterior wall.

Starbucks’ Significant Losses In Revenue Due To Boycott

Vincent Tan, the founder of Berjaya Corp Bhd which operates Starbucks, called for the boycott to stop. In March, Mr Tan said that boycotting Starbucks only hurts the locals running the company.

He added that 85% of Starbucks Malaysia’s employees are Muslim and that no foreigners are employed at the company’s head office.

Berjaya Food’s revenue from October to November 2023 was RM182.55 million (S$52 million), which was almost 40% lower than RM295.32 million (S$84 million) in the same quarter a year before.