“It’s not about being a different McDonald’s,” says president & CEO Steve Easterbrook. “It’s about being a better McDonald’s.”
That about sums about the goal for the iconic fast-food chain’s “Turnaround Plan” that Easterbrook unveiled in 2015 when he took the top post.
Tackling head on six consecutive quarters of declining same-store sales, the new CEO at the time made a 23-minute video emphasizing that his team was planning to make some real tweaks to reinvigorate the nearly six decade-old company. Plans included restructuring corporate operations, simplifying the menu and upgrading the quality of the food, and adding new technologies for customer service, such as digital menu boards, self-order kiosks and mobile apps.
“I will not shy away from the urgent need to reset this business,” he said. “We will look to create more excitement around the brand.”
Flash-forward three years, and Easterbrook “is having the last laugh,” says QSR Magazine, as McDonald’s sales have since rebounded – and so has its stock price.
“There’s an undeniable excitement surrounding McDonald’s as it invests in new technology initiatives, customer experiences, and corporate responsibility,” the publication writes.
For the first quarter, the fast-food chain with 37,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries marked its 11th consecutive quarter of positive comparable sales, with growth of 5.5%. Revenue rose 9%, to $5.14 billion, and net income rose 13%, to $1.38 billion, or $1.72 earnings per share.
“I’m pleased with our first quarter business performance as we continue to build momentum and grow customer visits with delicious food, compelling value and enhanced convenience,” Easterbrook said in the earnings call with analysts. “We are managing our business for the long-term and with our velocity growth plan, I am confident that our strategy and actions we’re taking will position the business for sustained growth.”
McDonald’s is increasing its capital improvement budget this year to $2.4 billion, up from $2 billion in 2017, to not only modernize its stores, but also lay the groundwork for a bigger push into home delivery, which the company sees as a huge potential growth driver over the next decade.
The massive changes are being conducted at a breakneck pace, Easterbrook said.
“We’re asking a lot of everybody in the McDonald’s system,” he said. But “this is what it takes to keep pace with today’s rising customer expectations.”
Since joining McDonald’s in 1993 as a financial reporting manager in London, Easterbrook has held numerous leadership roles. He served as global chief brand officer, president of McDonald’s Europe and CEO of McDonald’s UK.
Having spent time as a McDonald’s restaurant manager, he also understands how to develop company strategy that crew members and managers can execute successfully in restaurants. In addition to his more than 20 years with McDonald’s, Easterbrook briefly led two UK-based restaurant chains, PizzaExpress Limited and wagamama limited, giving him a broader industry perspective.
Steve Easterbrook, President & CEO, McDonald’s.
Headquarters: Chicago, IL
Education: Durham University (U.K.)
First joined company: 1993
Previous positions with company: Chief brand officer, President of McDonald’s Europe and CEO of McDonald’s U.K.
Named CEO: 2015