McDonald’s chief executive steps down after sales slump

Big 5

McDonald’s has announced the departure of its chief executive just days after the world’s biggest fast food chain reported its first fall in sales in 12 years.

The company, which is losing US market share to rivals such as Shake Shack and Five Guys, said Don Thompson would step down as McDonald’s president and chief executive on 1 March.

He will be replaced by Briton Steve Easterbrook, the company’s chief brand officer and former boss of McDonald’s in the UK and northern Europe.

Thompson, who became chief executive in 2012, had worked at McDonald’s since 1990 when he joined as engineer. He was axed following pressure from investors frustrated at the company’s poor performance. Last week McDonald’s reported a 15% fall in annual profits to $4.7bn.

“It’s tough to say goodbye to the McFamily, but there is a time and season for everything,” Thompson said in a press release after the markets. “I am truly confident as I pass the reins over to Steve, that he will continue to move our business and brand forward.”

McDonald’s shares, which have fallen by nearly 6% over the past year, rose 3% in after-hours trading following the news of his exit.

On a conference call to discuss the poor results on Friday, Thompson said: “We’re changing, and we’re doing it aggressively. However, it will take time, especially in our larger markets, for customers to notice the comprehensive changes that are under way.”

He said 2014 was a “challenging year” in “each of our geographic segments”. He warned that McDonald’s, which serves 69 million customers at more than 36,000 outlets across the world, “continues to face meaningful headwinds”.

Easterbrook said: “I am honoured to lead this great brand, and am committed to working with our franchisees, suppliers and employees to drive forward our strategic business priorities to better serve our customers.”

Source: The Guardian