McDonald’s ousts its US president after sales drop


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 - Page 15

McDonald’s Corp is hoping a leadership shake-up for its US business will help it fight off intensifying competition.

The world’s biggest hamburger chain said on Thursday that the current president of McDonald’s USA, Jan Fields, is to be replaced by its global chief restaurant officer, Jeff Stratton, effective Dec. 1.

The announcement comes less than a week after the fast-food giant reported its first monthly sales drop in nearly a decade.

A McDonald’s spokeswoman said the company’s chief executive officer Don Thompson and Fields are long-time friends and that they discussed the need for a change at the top.

A number of business factors played a role in the decision, but recent sales figures were not among them, McDonald’s spokeswoman Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem said.

“When you look at the size and scope of McDonald’s, there are numerous factors go into a decision like this,” she said.

“It’s difficult to isolate factors,” she said.

After years of outperforming its rivals, McDonald’s has struggled recently amid intensifying competition in the US and a persistently weak economy abroad.

Last month, the company reported its first monthly sales decline since March 2003.

In a recent conference call with analysts, Thompson said the company would return its focus on its “Dollar Menu” after efforts to shift customers to a slightly more expensive “Extra Value Menu” fell flat.

That emphasis on value is in contrast to rivals such as Wendy’s and Burger King, which have been introducing more premium offerings.

Taco Bell, known for its affordable Mexican-style fare, also introduced its higher-end Cantina Bell bowls earlier this year.

The moves are widely seen as a reaction to the growing popularity of chains such as Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panera Bread Co, which offer better quality food for slightly higher prices.

The US accounts for about a third of McDonald’s total revenue, while Europe accounts for about 40 percent; the region encompassing Asia, the Middle East and Africa accounts for 22 percent.

Thompson, who took over as CEO this summer, has also served as president of McDonald’s USA.

McDonald’s has more than 34,000 locations around the world, with about 14,000 in the US.