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Even Burger King Is Withholding Rent Payments in the U.K.

Chief executive Alasdair Murdoch says it may not pay next quarter’s bills

Burger King closure sign, as the fast food chain says it is withholding rent payments
A closed Burger King restaurant
Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Support gathers across industry for rent holiday

Burger King has indicated its support for the restaurant industry nine-month rent holiday proposal, by telling its landlords it won’t be paying this month’s, and maybe even the next quarter’s rent. Chief executive Alasdair Murdoch told the Today programme on Radio 4 that “It looks very difficult for us to be saying that we’re actually going to be paying next month’s or even next quarter’s rent, because we have no sales. And I think that’s the same for a lot of people in the industry.”

The global chain, owned by Restaurant Brands, has faced struggles with its U.K. division in recent years, with a series of management chains and persistent changes keeping its local footprint at around 500. It is still, however, the U.K. franchise of a company that generates billions in revenue per year, and is backed by private equity firm Bridgepoint. Its not paying rent is a signal of the depth of coronavirus’ impact on U.K. restaurants. It is also an object lesson in the relationship between brand presence and brand power: the ability to wield brinksmanship tactics with landlords when, in reality, with the insulation of a global brand’s reputation, Burger King is likely far from on the brink right now. [BBC]

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