McDonald’s is to introduce table service and cooked-to-order gourmet burgers at hundreds of restaurants across Britain as it tries to head off competition from upmarket rivals.
The fast food chain will roll out table service at 400 revamped restaurants before the end of 2016 after a successful trial last year. It will also double the number of locations selling a new range of premium burgers, called the signature collection.
The initiatives are designed to modernise McDonald’s restaurants and attract more families. The company is facing growing competition from gourmet burger brands such as Five Guys and Shake Shack, Mexican chains such as Chipotle and established rivals Burger King and KFC.
The UK has been one of McDonald’s best-performing businesses, delivering almost 10 years of consecutive sales growth. However, the company has slowed down in the rest of the world, particularly in the US, and its chief executive, Steve Easterbrook, is attempting to revitalise the fast food chain.
The final quarter of 2015 was McDonald’s biggest for sales in the UK and December was its biggest month. Sales have grown for 39 consecutive quarters and recorded a “mid-single-digit” rise year on year in the final three months of 2015, although the company declined to be more specific. Paul Pomroy, the chief executive of McDonald’s UK, said he was pleased with the performance of its restaurants in Britain.
McDonald’s first opened in the UK in 1974 and now has more than 1,250 restaurants.
Pomroy said: “Together with our franchisees we have delivered another strong year of growth, fuelled by a relentless focus on our customers’ evolving expectations and tastes.
“Investing in our customer experience is paramount. It’s important that we continue to listen to the 3.7 million people who visit us every day and respond with even more reasons for them to come to our restaurants.
“In 2016 we will continue to focus on providing great value and variety, as well as invest in our restaurants, our people and our menu, to ensure customers enjoy a great experience every time they visit us.”
McDonald’s had been trialling table service in 14 restaurants. The number of locations selling the signature collection will double from 30 to 60 within six weeks. These burgers come in classic, BBQ and spicy versions and are served in brioche-style buns. They cost £4.69.
The company is taking advantage of the table service system to launch the burgers. The extra thickness of the meat means customers have to wait for their burger to be served, in contrast to hamburgers and Big Macs.
The fast food chain announced the national rollout as it reported improving financial results in the rest of the world.
Sales at US restaurants open for more than a year rose 5.7% in the fourth quarter, the second quarterly increase after two years of declines. Same-store sales across all regions were up 5% from a year earlier.
Easterbrook said the company was benefiting from the “bold, urgent” action it had taken, such as introducing all-day breakfast into its restaurants.
Neil Saunders, a retail analyst at Conlumino, said: “This momentum is important as it signals McDonald’s is reconnecting with consumers, which is driving both customer traffic and sales. We believe that this has been the result of a number of changes, especially in the core US market.”
This article was written by Graham Ruddick, for theguardian.com on Monday 25th January 2016 18.00 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010