Burger King parent Restaurant Brands International will defer rent and boost franchisees in North America with extra cash as part of its response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a CNBC report.
U.S. fast food restaurant sales have fallen 34 percent compared to last year, as of the week ending March 22.
Restaurant Brands, which oversees 3,700 Burger King and Tim Hortons locations in the U.S. and Canada, will send $70 million in cash advances and rebates to franchisees. Rent will now be based only on sales made, as opposed to any of the usual methods, and will be put off for 45 days. The company is working with landlords in North America for further assistance.
CEO Jose Cil said the initiatives let the company unlock thousands of dollars in liquidity for restaurants that fit the criteria.
Burger King and Popeyes employees will now also be eligible for paid sick leave up to two weeks if diagnosed with the highly contagious coronavirus or if they were asked to self-isolate. The company will pay Tim Hortons employees in Canada if they're affected by the virus as well. In addition, Restaurant Brands International is sending 15,000 infrared thermometers to Burger King, Popeyes and Tim Hortons locations.
Restaurant Brands' stock has fallen almost 37 percent in 2020 thus far. Shares were down 1 percent on Monday (March 30).
The coronavirus has made it less safe for people to eat in crowded places, particularly as many states order restaurants to stop serving food or drinks on the premises with the hopes of containing the virus. Instead, many are now turning to delivery and pickup options as the last remaining bastion to keep the lights on and keep employees paid. Almost every facet of life, not just food, has ended up turning to delivery, including some like lingerie manufacturers and high-end food that would never have considered it prior to this month.