KFC crunch time: Boycott boils over with more than 100 store closures

by Rahim Said

The ongoing boycott targeting KFC in Malaysia has evolved from what many initially perceived as a fleeting emotional outpouring to a sustained movement with significant economic implications. 

For over half a year, this boycott has persisted, resulting in the temporary closure of more than 100 KFC branches across the country. 

The impact of this boycott on KFC’s parent company, QSR Brands, and the broader domestic economy is becoming increasingly apparent.

Initially viewed as a temporary disruption that would fade with time, the boycott has instead intensified, defying expectations. 

KFC, a beloved fast-food chain in Malaysia with a presence spanning more than five decades and over 700 branches nationwide, now finds itself in uncharted territory. 

The closure of over 10% of its branches is a clear indication of the boycott’s effectiveness and the extent of its impact.

According to news reports, the situation is particularly dire in Kelantan, where nearly 80% of KFC branches have temporarily closed.

Across the country, branches in 13 states and Kuala Lumpur have been affected, with significant closures in states like Johor, Kedah, and Terengganu. Even Selangor, a highly developed state, has not been spared, with 11 branches in the Shah Alam area shutting down temporarily. 

The repercussions of this boycott extend beyond KFC, raising concerns about the potential for similar actions against other companies. The broader market is now contemplating whether this wave of boycotts will ensnare more businesses, further complicating an already challenging economic landscape.

As QSR Brands grapples with this unprecedented challenge, the fate of these temporarily closed branches remains uncertain. 

Will they eventually reopen, or will they join the list of permanent closures? This uncertainty underscores the need for vigilance and strategic decision-making in the face of evolving consumer sentiments.

The implications of this boycott reach far beyond KFC and QSR Brands. They serve as a stark reminder of the power of consumer activism and the need for businesses to remain attuned to shifting public opinion. 

As Malaysia undergoes this challenging period, it is imperative for businesses to adapt and respond effectively to ensure their long-term viability in an increasingly volatile market.

Dr. Rahim Said is a human behaviourist and regular contributor on digital media platforms. He is a professional management consultant, a corporate trainer and an executive coach specialising in coaching of senior executives and individual entrepreneurs with the purpose of modifying their behaviour in the pursuit of their cherished missions. (The views expressed by our columnist are entirely his own)