The UK is one of US food giant McDonald's' key territories, but it faced several challenges from the late 1990s to mid 2000s. Inevitably the brand dominates the local restaurant market, with 1,280 outleys across the country. Yet the business struggled for years to adjust to consumer concerns over unhealthy eating. Those problems appeared to have been largely resolved by the mid-2000s and in 2007, McDonald's UK reported its highest sales for more than a decade. That improvement has continued more or less consistently since then. Steve Easterbrook - later McDonald's group CEO - was widely credited with turning around UK performance during his tenure as UK chief executive from 2006 to 2010, re-positioning the chain from junk food outlet to family favourite. Easterbrook's successor was Paul Pomroy, who led the business until 2021, when he was succeeded by former UK marketing chief Alistair Macrow. For a time the group also dabbled in other brand chains. It acquired a minority stake in much admired British sandwich chain Pret a Manger in 2001, but sold those shares sold in 2008. For 2017, corporate entity McDonald's Restaurants Ltd reported best-ever turnover of almost £1.6bn. Sales from owned restaurants were £1.1bn, with royalty and services fees from licensees of £480m. However, since then a global shift towards refranchising owned restaurants has prompted a decline in company revenues. Topline for 2018 was £1.5bn, split between £931m from owned outlets and £583m from licensees. Net profit rose to £331m. UK system sales are estimated at around £2.1bn. McDonald's Marketing Cooperative is a separate entity which oversees a pooled budget for marketing, funded by McDonald's itself and its various licensees. In 2024, McDonald's will celebrate its 50th anniversary in the UK. Its first outlet opened in Woolwich, South London in 1974.
Capsule checked 7th October 2020
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Who are the competitors of McDonald's? See Restaurants & Bars Sector index for other companies
Marketing expenditure of McDonald's UK? See ranking of Declared Advertising Costs
Historical profile information for McDonald's UK
Marketer Moves 24th Aug 2021: New CEO at McDonald's UK&I. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Adbrands Daily Update 27th Jul 2021: "Me Time". After a year or so in which their ads for McDonald's were perhaps not quite up to past standards, Leo Burnett London comes bouncing back with another fine film for the nation's favourite fast feeder. Viewers from other countries might be slightly surprised by the particular affection with which ordinary Brits regard McDonald's. For many, it's not just a burger joint, it's a cross between comfort food and a special treat. This ad sums it up perfectly.
Adbrands Daily Update 22nd Jul 2020: "Welcome Back". In an otherwise quiet week for great new ads, Leo Burnett London's end-of-lockdown celebration for McDonald's was one of comparatively few highlights. The happiness is infectious. A special pat on the back to the bright spark who selected British R&B singer Mark Morrison's old hit 'Return of the Mack' for the soundtrack. It's not just fans of the Big Mac who will be celebrating: McDonald's management and staff must also be breathing a big sigh of relief and hoping there will be no further viral upsurge.
Adbrands Daily Update 9th Mar 2020: "Ball Pit / Night Workers". Regular readers know that we're longstanding fans of most of Leo Burnett London's work for McDonald's in the UK. There's a warmth and a sly humour in these ads which acknowledges the fast feeder's role as some sort of community cornerstone here, more so perhaps than in most of the other countries straddled by those golden arches. Today sees the release of the latest two ads in two long-running campaigns, one emphasising the comparative superiority of McCafé over artisan coffee shops; the other highlighting the benefits to late-night visitors of the chain's extended opening hours. One might have thought that previous ads had said all there was to say on both fronts, but with these two new spots Burnett's have found entertaining and elegant ways of pressing home their argument afresh.
Adbrands Daily Update 13th Sep 2019: "Trust: Beef / Eggs". Leo Burnett London comes up trumps once again with a new set of "Trust" ads for McDonald's, emphasising the quality of the fast feeder's food. In the past, these have tended to concentrate on debunking in humorous style the various myths surrounding the chain's ingredients. These new spots take a slightly different approach, presenting comic parallels with the kind of posh restaurants or stores that sell only the finest foods. And then delivering the surprise punchline: in one or two critical respects those fancy pants places are not much different from good old Maccy D's; just a lot more expensive.
Adbrands Social Media 26th Jun 2019: "Facts: Wraps". Leo Burnett London's playful ads for McDonald's are always a treat. Here's another loosely in the tradition of earlier campaigns which debunked all those urban myths about what goes into the fast feeder's food. Actually, there's not much to debunk here: you can't go far wrong with a chicken wrap, so the ad offers instead a light-hearted riff on the subject of the British lunch through the ages.
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