U.S. hamburger chain Wendy's is withdrawing from the Russian market following a change in management of its Russian franchisee, Bloomberg reported Tuesday, citing a Wendy's spokesman.
In 2010, Wenrus Restaurant Group agreed to open 180 Wendy's restaurants across Russia by 2020, but only succeeded in setting up eight by 2014.
Wenrus has already closed four of those restaurants, and will shut down the remaining four in the next few weeks, Wendy's spokesman Bob Bertini told Bloomberg.
The decision to up sticks had nothing to do with politics, but has been brought about by the new management's lack of interest in the Russian market.
"Unfortunately, the new leadership of Wenrus has not expressed interest in growing Wendy's business in Russia, nor shown they have the resources to successfully operate the existing restaurants on a long-term basis," Bertini said. "As a result, we have decided not to continue business in Russia at this time."
U.S. fast food chains in Russia appear to have become a pawn in the spat between Washington and Moscow over the ongoing Ukraine crisis, which has seen the two countries' relations go from bad to worse.
McDonald's closed its three restaurants in Crimea after Russia annexed the region from Ukraine in March, citing "manufacturing reasons independent of McDonald's." The closures prompted hot-head Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky to demand McDonald's exit from Russia.
Last week, Russia's consumer rights watchdog accused McDonald's of misleading customers about the energy values of some of its burgers and said that it had detected coliform bacteria in its Caesar wraps and a vegetable salad. On Monday, a second Russian watchdog opened an investigation into the cheese used by McDonald's.