McDonald’s aims for ‘progress over perfection’ as sales drop again

McDonald’s aims to arrest its sales slide by becoming a “modern and progressive” company with a test and learn culture, new chief executive Steve Easterbrook has said.

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On a call with investors, Easterbrook argued that McDonald’s “can’t afford to carry legacy attitudes” as it looks to implement a major business turnaround. He was speaking as the restaurant chain announced an 11% fall in revenues in the first quarter of 2015 to $5.95bn (£3.96bn).

Easterbrook, who became global CEO in January, said McDonald’s must aim for “progress over perfection” by testing new initiatives at speed that seek to improve the customer experience. “We can achieve meaningful change in weeks,” he said. “We just need to do it more often.”

Such initiatives include the trials of high-end sirloin burgers and an all-day breakfast offer in the US. McDonald’s is set to formally announce the details of its global turnaround plan on 4 May but Easterbrook said the chain is already taking steps designed to “energise the brand”.

The Q1 results show a 28% fall in operating income due to the company’s weaker performance and $195 million of charges that include the closure of 220 under-performing restaurants, primarily in the US and China, and 130 closures in Japan.

The UK continued to outperform other major markets, though, delivering a 36th consecutive quarter of growth. Easterbrook attributed this to the UK business’s “customer-centric” strategy that has focused on menu quality, innovative marketing and improving the customer experience.

McDonald’s is aiming to reinvent itself in the wake of rising competition from smaller chains and changing consumer tastes. Revenues at the group fell by 2% last year.

Easterbrook, who is British and formerly ran UK restaurant chains Pizza Express and Wagamama, claimed his background is helping to provide an objective perspective of McDonald’s challenges.

“We are committed to making McDonald’s a modern, progressive burger company delivering a contemporary customer experience,” he said.

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