Illustration for article titled Burger King UK won’t pay rent, will pay employees instead
Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto (Getty Images)

Burger King? More like Burger Reasonable Distributor Of Capital to the Working Class. Burger King UK announced this week that it won’t be paying their quarterly rent checks, instead using that cash to keep its employees paid. CEO Alisdair Murdoch didn’t mince words when he told BBC Radio’s Today show about his plans: “We are not intending to pay our rent.” Okay, Alisdair! Noted!

On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued stay-at-home orders to the British Isles, similar to what we’re experiencing in the States. Though restaurants can still do takeout and delivery, Burger King is shuttering stores for the duration of the lockdown. The CEO of the British chain Yo! Sushi (what?) made the same choice as the Burger King, telling The Financial Times that not paying rent is “not really a choice. It’s just a basic piece of economics.” Teach me about economics, Yo! Sushi guy!

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American brands have been having similar discussions around defaulting on rent amid the pandemic. According to Forbes, Subway and Mattress Firm are in talks with landlords about pushing rent back, though that appears to be negotiated on a landlord-by-landlord basis. Across the pond, UK landlords have been pretty cool about the whole “not paying rent in a pandemic” thing, as businesses are looking for creative ways to stay afloat. Meanwhile, British landlords are petitioning the government to cover the rent. But I guess this seems like a more feasible ask of a government that provides basic services like health care to its people.

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