McDonald's stays focused on growth

by Eric Schroeder
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OAK BROOK, Ill. – In response to a dreary first-quarter forecast, McDonald’s Corp. remains focused on enhancing its menu and expanding its footprint.

“As we begin 2013, we’re placing an even greater emphasis on those drivers that excite consumers and generate the greatest growth for our business,” said Don Thompson, chief executive officer of McDonald’s, in a Jan. 23 call to discuss fourth-quarter earnings with financial analysts. “We still have plenty of room to grow within the framework of our Plan to Win and our three global growth priorities to optimize our menu, modernize the customer experience and broaden accessibility to brand McDonald’s around the world.”

Despite an unexpected rise in sales in December, which boosted fourth-quarter earnings, Thompson predicted a January decline.

“Growth in the informal eating-out industry has been relatively flat to declining around the world, and we expect that to continue,” Thompson said. “As we begin 2013, we face persistent top- and bottom-line pressures and significant prior-year results. As a result, we expect January sales to be negative.”

In December, McDonald’s re-launched its limited-time McRib sandwich and opened more stores on Christmas. The chain also shifted marketing to its dollar menu and introduced a grilled onion cheddar burger.

“The answers are definitely in our system and are driving our plans in every area of the world from compelling menu offerings like McWraps, to winning value and convenience initiatives, to our beverage business, extended hours and new restaurant development in both established and emerging markets,” Thompson said.

This year, McDonald’s will debut Fish McBites and a pipeline of beef sandwiches, chicken entrees and breakfast and beverage offerings. The company also plans to add 1,500 to 1,600 new restaurants and revamp more than 1,600 existing locations.

“We are determined to leverage our strengths to attract more customers, to gain even more market share and fortify our financial strength,” Thompson said. “We have made the tactical adjustments that are necessary to navigate through the current environment while continuing to deliver value for the benefit of our system and shareholders over the long term.”

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