Where’s the best place to open a franchise? Apparently it’s Russia. Last week, Burger King opened its first location in Moscow and plans to launch several more stores over the course of the year. Not to be outdone, Dunkin’ Donuts also plans to open at least 50 locations in Moscow over the next few years, including 10 this year. Meanwhile, Subway announced that it will make Russia its fourth-biggest European market by expanding its network there from 78 to 1,000 outlets by 2015. We’re not sure why it’s taken U.S. franchises this long to discover Russia. After all, it’s the largest country in the world, so it’s pretty hard to miss. Actually, this is the second go-round for Dunkin’ Donuts. It first entered Russia in 1996, but pulled out two years later when its Russian partner ran into financial difficulties. In typical fashion, McDonald’s is light years ahead of the pack. It has been in Russia since 1990 and now operates 235 restaurants throughout the country.
Non-fat latte, anyone? Does posting calorie counts on menus prevent consumers from indulging in artery-clogging cuisine? Researchers at Stanford Business School have just released the results of a study that analyzed more than 100 million Starbucks transactions both before and after a calorie-posting law took effect in New York City in 2008. Surprisingly, the study found that calorie postings led to a 6 percent calorie drop in the average purchase. Even more astonishing, the study found that revenue climbed 3 percent at stores located within 100 meters of rival Dunkin’ Donuts, perhaps because consumers were guilted into swapping their strawberry frosted donut for a healthier alternative from Starbucks. (Not that a Cinnamon Dolce Frappuccino is exactly a health alternative.) Dunkin’ called the results “absolutely unfounded.” What else do you expect them to say?
Want a hot stock tip? Don’t ask the Humane Society. Seems that the non-profit’s investment strategy has nothing to do with, you know, making money. Instead, the do-good organization wants to affect change, no matter the cost. The Humane Society recently bought stock Jack in the Box and Steak ‘n Shake, two fast-food chains not exactly known for their warm and fuzzy treatment of animals. As a shareholder, the Humane Society believes it will have a stronger voice in persuading these companies to drop their practices of doing business with egg suppliers that confine hens in cages and pork suppliers that breed pigs in crates. Who knows, it just might work. Then again, we own stock in Victoria’s Secret, and we still haven’t convinced a single lingerie model to go out with us.