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McDonald’s CEO to Step Down

Published on Jan 29 2015 4:44 AM in Restaurant

McDonald’s CEO to Step Down

McDonald’s, the world’s largest restaurant chain, will replace Chief Executive Officer Don Thompson with one of his top lieutenants following the company’s worst US sales slump in more than a decade.

 

Chief Brand Officer Steve Easterbrook will take the reins when Thompson steps down on 1 March, the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company said in a statement Wednesday. Easterbrook, currently a senior executive vice president, also will join the board, filling Thompson’s vacated seat, the company said. Thompson, 51, had been in the CEO job fewer than three years.

“With sales stagnant for this long, there’s been a lot of push for change,” said Will Slabaugh, an analyst at Stephens Inc. in Little Rock, Arkansas. “They had to show investors they’re serious about changing and improving sales.”

The shares jumped as much as 3.5 per cent to $91.90 in late trading after the announcement. McDonald’s stock had slumped 3.4 per cent last year, trailing an 11 per cent gain by the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. McDonald’s, which has more than 36,000 locations worldwide, hasn’t posted U.S. growth since October 2013..

Administrative Officer

As part of the shake-up, Chief Financial Officer Pete Bensen will take the newly created job of chief administrative officer and help oversee the company’s operations. Kevin Ozan, corporate controller, will assume Bensen’s CFO duties.

Easterbrook, a 48-year-old from the UK, started at McDonald’s in 1993 as a manager in London. He left the company in 2011 to become CEO of PizzaExpress and then Wagamama, two British chains, before returning in 2013.

Create Your Taste

Thompson kicked off a program called Create Your Taste that offered a more customizable menu -- including a build-your-own-burger option. But that project is still in a limited trial. McDonald’s also has lost its reputation as the low-cost leader, with rivals such as Burger King offering cheaper deals on chicken nuggets and other items.

Thompson replaced the head of the US division twice in less than two years, but it didn’t bring more customers to the Golden Arches. In the end, the board ran out of patience, said a former McDonald’s executive. Thompson also was seen as a micromanager and ignored a push by other executives to offer healthier and more varied food, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the matter is sensitive.

McDonald’s declined to make Thompson or Easterbrook available for interviews.

Thompson, a 25-year company veteran who started as an electrical engineer, was the first black CEO of the company. He took the CEO job after serving as president of McDonald’s USA and operating chief.

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

Bloomberg News, edited by Hospitality Ireland

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