10 Countries Where McDonald’s Failed

10 Countries Where McDonald’s Failed

August 16, 2019 100 By Bertrand Dibbert


McDonald’s is the largest fast-food chain
in the world, but is it in trouble? In a recent EU lawsuit, McDonald’s lost
its trademark on the Big Mac, and Burger King picked up on it right away. With names like ‘Anything But A Big Mac’,
Burger King hilariously trolled McDonald’s on social media. But it’s not just Burger King that McDonald’s
is fighting against! There are many reasons why McDonald’s struggles
to set up successful restaurants overseas, and these are the top 10 countries where McDonald’s
has completely failed. Macedonia Macedonia, a small European country in the
Balkans, was once home to seven glorious McDonald’s restaurants, with a few in the capital, Skopje. Surprisingly, despite the population of more
than 2 million, there was little presence from McDonald’s apart from one small franchise. These restaurants had been running in Macedonia
for 16 years and had been successful there. Until one day in 2013… poof! With no warning, all of the restaurants were
closed overnight, and hungry customers were confronted with a ‘temporary closure’
notice in place of their morning McMuffin. So, what happened? The franchise owner was quick to confirm this
was not due to an inspection or health and safety issue, but instead stated that they
had lost the licence from McDonald’s to remain open. Rumor has it that the head of McDonald’s European
office had a falling out with the franchise owner, and so the licence was revoked. Since then, no other McDonald’s restaurant
has been allowed to operate in the area, so I guess they’ll have to get their breakfast
elsewhere. North Korea Ok, this one seems pretty obvious. It’s pretty well-known that North Korea
and the US have been hostile since the Cold War and tensions grew after the Korean War
back in 1950! In more recent times, Americans have even
been banned from North Korean soil, so it’s unsurprising that the huge American corporation
is not allowed to operate there. However, Kim Jong Il claimed to have invented
something called ‘Gogigyeopbbang’, which means ‘double bread with meat’, and was
essentially a hamburger. Despite this replacement, the richest North
Koreans still import McDonald’s by plane from McDonald’s restaurants in China, according
to The Telegraph. It seems even Kim Jong-un is being won over
by the fabulous food, as a South Korean official said that North Korea is eager to secure investment
from American companies such as McDonald’s. Three US officials also indicated that Pyongyang,
the capital of North Korea, was considering having a Western burger restaurant as a sign
of the new unity between the US and North Korea. It’s unclear if these plans are going ahead,
but if it does, this might be the best trade deal in the history of trade deals! Jamaica McDonald’s had been running in Jamaica since
1995, opening 12 outlets in the first four years. After 10 years of underwhelming sales, the
franchise owner had to give up on the dream of owning a huge chain of fast-food restaurants
across the country. But how could such a successful business fail? Apparently, there were a few reasons for the
failure, the most severe being the tiny burgers. For this reason, Burger King managed to survive
in Jamaica after McDonald’s failed. Another reason is the locals becoming upset
that McDonald’s imported the majority of their meat rather than buying it locally. Although this was changed, there were other
menu issues, such as the lack of classic Jamaican food and alcohol in McDonald’s restaurants. This meant that the owner had to close all
their stores, and no one has been brave enough to try it again. Well, it’s not just that, McDonald’s also
reportedly asked for $2 million from the local businessperson to kickstart their investment
in a franchise, as well as spending a whopping 9 unpaid months working in the restaurant. Oof! That’s quite a big ask. Needless to say, Jamaica won’t be ‘lovin’
it’ any time soon. Barbados Midway through the 90s, McDonald’s set up
their very first store in Barbados, an island famous for its beautiful beaches and rich
culture. This was part of a big push to move McDonald’s
into the Caribbean and grow their empire. Looking at the mess they made of their move
to Jamaica, it’s not surprising that this was also unsuccessful. Although there was some interest at the start,
McDonald’s only lasted 6 short months on this idyllic island. It seemed Barbados was not too keen on the
processed, bland American food that McDonald’s offers. Many people said they preferred the fresh
chicken, fish and other tropical treats that they could get from the island. Unfortunately for Ronald McDonald, the food
in Barbados is much healthier and flavorful than the food McDonald’s offers, and the locals
prefer this diet. This fast-food titan was promptly moved off
the island, and the restaurant has since been painted blue and is now a financial services
office (because that’s obviously the next logical step). The locals seem happy with the move and can
still go to one of their KFC or Burger King restaurants for a playful taste of US cuisine
when the cravings hit. Bolivia This Latin American country of 11 million
people is, like McDonald’s, home to a very large amount of salt (more than 6000 squared
miles worth). Seems like the perfect setting for some french
fries, right? Wrong. In fact, this is the only Latin American country
without a McDonald’s! But that’s not to say they weren’t once
McDonald’s mad. When it first arrived in 1997, it was seen
as a good place to socialize and was constantly bustling with hungry customers. 2 years later, there were 6 restaurants operating
in Bolivia, but the novelty was starting to wear off. In 2002, after a decline in sales and some
botched attempts at selling to the middle-class, McDonald’s were forced to close all stores. So why couldn’t it stay afloat? The biggest factor is probably the economy. In 2002, Bolivia had more than 60% of its
population living in poverty, and this was a luxury most people couldn’t afford. Although it seems like cheap food to us, Bolivia
actually has similar ‘meal deals’ from local restaurants or street vendors for half
the price. Now that’s what I call value. Vendors also offered a variety and tradition
that McDonald’s just couldn’t compete with. Since then, the Bolivian president has said
‘fast-food in the west is doing a great deal of harm to humankind’. Yikes! Clearly, the Bolivian people aren’t happy
with American fast-food and want to stick with what they’ve got. Fair enough! Iceland Iceland is a plucky Nordic country with volcanoes,
geysers, springs and around 340,000 people (for reference, that’s roughly 1% of Canada’s
population). Due to it small population, it can be difficult
to break into the Icelandic economy, so there aren’t many global franchises in the country. In 1993, when McDonald’s opened, the locals
were over the moon! The Prime Minister at the time was pictured
sinking his teeth into a burger, and it made all the papers (that was basically viral in
those days). It became fairly successful in the country,
although it had to compete with a beloved home-grown burger chain called ‘Hambórgarabúllan’. What a mouthful! Things took a turn for McDonald’s during the
2008 financial crash, or ‘Credit Crunch’. It just became too expensive to run a restaurant,
and McDonald’s had to give in. When McDonald’s announced its closure in 2008,
around 15,000 people lined up to get one last Value Meal while they still had the chance. This was such a big deal that the last burger
to be sold is still kept in their national museum. Worryingly, it still hasn’t started to go
bad, although it’s roughly 10 years old. If you want to see it, there’s a webcam running
on the exhibit constantly so you can check in for decay whenever you want! And the list of countries where McDonald’s
failed continues to grow. Iran So, it’s becoming pretty clear that American
businesses like McDonald’s aren’t always welcome overseas. Amazingly, there was a McDonald’s in Iran
once upon a time, which closed in 1979. McDonald’s got the boot during the revolution
in Iran, after which there was a massive rejection of American culture. McDonald’s isn’t alone in this; lots of
other American things have also been banned, including everyone’s favorite cartoon family
-The Simpsons! Look, I know what you’re thinking: how do
they survive without it? Well, Iran actually has a mock McDonald’s
called ‘Mash Donald’s’, which uses a suspiciously similar logo. This boasts a delicious menu including the
‘Mash Donald’s baguette burger’ (instead of a Big Mac) and an 18 inch long sandwich! Amazingly, after many years eating the copycat’s
food, it seems Iranians might be about to get the real deal. Bridges are being built between the two countries…
maybe a restaurant can be too! McDonald’s have said ‘in the future we may
take steps to open McDonald’s restaurants in Iran’, so it’s looking promising. There’s already a franchise application online
for setting up stores in Iran. Don’t get too excited though, this is also
true for other countries that the US currently can’t trade with, like Syria. All we can do is wait to see if anyone picks
up the offer. Zimbabwe Zimbabwe is a country in southern Africa home
to Victoria Falls and McDonald’s Fails. For McDonald’s, Zimbabwe is a nut they’ve
never quite managed to crack. In 1997, McDonald’s began looking at setting
up their latest McVenture in Zimbabwe with the hope of opening a new restaurant in 1999. Things were looking promising at first, and
then… BOOM! That’s when a huge political storm happened
(which was completely unrelated to McDonald’s, of course). This tanked the economy, and unemployment
and inflation rates hit the roof! Money had basically no value due to hyperinflation. Obviously, McDonald’s could no longer move
there, and so plans were put on hold. Zimbabwe has struggled to steer its economy
back, and it is still a turbulent time to invest. Naturally, McDonald’s has kept its eye on
Zimbabwe anyway, and they claim they still intend to ‘take steps to open McDonald’s
in Zimbabwe’. But is this likely to happen? Well, this could be a problem for existing
fast-food joints that already operate there. Nando’s and Steers are very big names in
the south of Africa and have stayed profitable even in the financial uncertainty. They are going to be some serious competition
for McDonald’s! If McDonald’s want a place at this table,
it looks like they’ll have to fight for it. Montenegro This small Balkan country of just 600,000
people has mounted a surprising amount of resistance against the addition of a McDonald’s
store to Montenegro. In it’s capital, Podgorica, McDonald’s
used to operate a tiny mobile restaurant. You’d imagine that this went badly, and
that’s why they haven’t come back, but it’s actually the opposite. At the time, business was good, and it’s thought
that McDonald’s closed due to governmental pressure. Local reports suggested that they were concerned
about the healthiness of the food. This checks out, as Montenegro also has no
KFC, Burger King or other American fast-food joints. Instead, the people tend to eat local, traditional,
and cheap meals from kiosks which offer quick takeaway food. You can literally get twice as much for your
money from these local traders, as big Balkan burgers cost just €1.50! Add into the mix that these are all made fresh
and it’s obvious that McDonald’s doesn’t really fit in there. The tiny population makes profits more difficult
to guarantee and increases the price of the ingredients, as lots of them would have to
be imported. All in all, it’s a completely infeasible
place for McDonald’s to invest in. Montenegro does have a few places to grab
a nice American burger if you’re really desperate though, like the Hard Rock Café. It’s close enough, right? Vietnam Vietnam currently has 17 Mickey D’s, but
these might not be here for long, despite their success in other Asian countries, such
as China, where it is the second largest foreign fast-food chain after KFC. Given this success, McDonald’s planned to
open 100 stores between 2014 and 2024 in Vietnam, but half-way through, they’ve achieved less
than 1/5 of this target. You might assume that this is due to lasting
tensions between Vietnam and the US over the Vietnam War, but it is actually more complex
than that. It mostly comes down to the fact that the
markets sell food even faster than McDonald’s (which I didn’t think was possible) and
so the idea of picking food up on-the-go isn’t interesting to them. In big cities, the ground floor of lots of
houses are converted to run rapid street vending stores, and so whole streets of variety are
available for the Vietnamese consumer. In this foody world, McDonald’s is on the
pricey end, and so it’s not really practical for getting everyday meals. The McMenu is also more expensive to cook
than the native Vietnamese foods, such as Pho, and so McDonald’s prices can’t be
cut any lower to compete. Another problem is that in Vietnam, sharing
food is a social and cultural norm, and burgers also aren’t really ‘sharing food’. Unfortunately for McDonald’s, the interest
started off low and is getting even lower, with fast-food visits dropping 31% between
2016 and 2018. Street vendors, on the other hand, are still
booming and have been getting more popular. Spend a little more time with us by checking
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