Top man Thompson is out as McDonald’s turns to Easterbrook and his UK experience

The top man at McDonald’s, president and CEO Don Thompson, has paid the price for the fast food giant’s stuttering performance and is leaving the company at the start of March.

He is to be replaced by chief brand officer easterbrook082510Steve Easterbrook (left), another McDonald’s long-timer but one who spent two years away as CEO of noodle chain Wagamama and the UK’s Pizza Express.

Which is a pretty obvious guide to what McDonald’s is planning next: a refresh of its restaurants to make them look more like modern cafe/restaurants than the plasticky environment that has served the company for the past 40 years or so.

McDonald’s is trying to save $100m after seeing both its sales and profits fall over the past year. Refurbishing the restaurants is going to be an expensive business – which is probably why the company hasn’t done it already – so new boss Easterbrook is going to have to save some money somewhere. That’s likely to come from more management redundancies – the company has already made 63 HQ staff redundant.

McDonald’s has also appointed Leo Burnett as its main agency in the US (the agency has handled McD in the UK for decades). Burnett has made a lively start, and has a Super Bowl spot coming up. But solving McD’s problems obviously requires a more root-and-brand approach.

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