McDonald's COO Thompson To Succeed CEO Skinner

McDonald's Corp. CEO Jim Skinner, 67, will retire on June 30, and the board has elected Don Thompson, who became president and COO in January 2010, as his successor.

Skinner will also retire from McDonald's board, where he serves as vice chairman. 

During Skinner’s eight years as CEO, McDonald's' compound annual total shareholder return was 21%, and its market capitalization surpassed $100 billion for the first time in its history. 

Since 2004, McDonald's' stock has tripled, making the global QSR giant the best performer in the Dow Jones Industrial Average since then, according to Bloomberg. Its revenue has grown 42% since 2004 (to $27 billion in 2011). McDonald's now has more than 33,500 locations worldwide, 80% of which are franchised. 

Skinner is a 41-year veteran of McDonald's, having joined the company as a management trainee in 1971. 



Thompson, 48, has been with McDonald's for 22 years, starting as an electrical engineer. Prior to becoming COO, he served as president of McDonald's USA from 2006 to 2010. He will assume his CEO duties as of July 1. His successor as COO has not yet been determined. 

Analysts interviewed by Bloomberg and other media outlets predict a seamless management transition. 

In contrast to most competitors, McDonald's managed to increase sales and earnings through the worst of the recession. It has realized global comparable sales gains for nearly nine years running, and even U.S. comp-store sales were at least flat to slightly positive in most periods during the height of the economic downturn. U.S. comp sales momentum has been particularly strong in recent months, driven by sales of beverages and core menu items. In February, U.S. comp sales rose 11.1%, versus 2.7% in February 2010.

McDonald's credited Skinner's leadership and role as one of the architects of its "Plan to Win" for driving McDonald's revitalization and performance. That strategic framework, in place since 2003, emphasizes "being better, not just bigger." It has been behind McDonald's' modernizing of its restaurants and increased menu variety, including healthier offerings such as salads and, most recently, healthier versions of its kids' Happy Meal. 

However, while the U.S. restaurant industry is showing continuing signs of recovery as the economy improves, and developing markets continue to offer major growth opportunities, Thompson's challenges in continuing McDonald's growth and performance record include rising input costs and intensifying competition.

McDonald's expects its input or ingredients costs to rise this year by as much as 5.5% in the U.S. and 3.5% in Europe.

In addition, although its nearest competitors still have significantly smaller revenues, all are pushing aggressively to grab some market share from McDonald's.

Starbucks, the nation's second-largest restaurant chain (2011 global net revenues of $11.7 billion), just opened its first Evolution Fresh store, stressing juices and healthy, convenient menu offerings. No. 2 U.S. restaurant chain Subway has made strides against McDonald's, and is heavily marketing its relatively new offerings in the critical breakfast daypart. No. 2 burger chain/no. 4 overall restaurant chain Wendy's is also testing breakfast offerings in some U.S. locations, and scored gains against McDonald's with its introduction of natural-cut fries with sea salt.

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