McDONALD'S, the American burger chain, yesterday became the latest service sector company to unveil plans to create new jobs in Britain this year, saying it will hire 5,000 mostly part-time staff. McDonald's will spend more than £116 million opening 110 new restaurants this year. Most will be drive-through establishments and around 90 per cent of the new staff will be paid by the hour. Last year the company created nearly 4,500 new jobs in Britain by opening 90 new restaurants. In the past few weeks Marks & Spencer, Safeway and B&Q have announced plans to hire thousands of new staff.
In the pub and restaurant business, Greenalls said last month that it will create 1,000 new jobs, while Whitbread, joint owners with Pepsico of the Pizza Hut chain, said that it was creating 5,000 new jobs by opening 150 new branches of the restaurant over the next four years.
Government figures released last month showed unemployment falling below two million in November for the first time since 1991. But while the fall in the number of jobless and the increase in service sector job creation have been hailed by government supporters as evidence of the return of the "feel-good" factor, critics have pointed out that, as at McDonald's, many of the new posts on offer give little security and relatively low pay.
McDonald's pointed out yesterday that nearly 60 per cent of its restaurant managers started as hourly-paid staff. "These are real jabs with long-term prospects," it said.
Around three quarters of the new McDonald's will be housed in prefabricated buildings at out-of-town retail parks or multiplex cinemas. The prefabs are a relatively cheap and speedy option: it can take as little as nine days from the levelling of a site to the opening of a new restaurant.
The company hopes to open 38 restaurants in London and the South, 28 in the Midlands and Wales, 27 in the North, 12 in Scotland and five in Northern Ireland.
Last year new branches of McDonald's were opened in retail parks, converted pubs, at Sega World in London's Picadilly Circus, on Stena ferries and even inside a Royal Navy base at Devonport.
There have been signs of McDonald's losing out in the popularity stakes in its highly competitive home market, and in October it reported a decline in domestic sales for the fifth quarter in a row. However research shows that the company's market share in the UK continues to grow.
Taylor Nelson, the pollsters, show that in the last three months of 1996, McDonald's claimed 78 per cent of the burger marke - up from 75 per cent a year earlie - with Burger King at 14 per cent. Since it was founded in the early 1950s the company has opened restaurants in 96 countries and now has more than 20,000 restaurants in the US. Although it has slowed the rate of expansion in its domestic market, it still plans to open about 2,500 there dyring the coming year.
5,000 McJobs as chain expands
McDonald's, the Amencan hamburger chain, is planning to create 5,000 jobs in Britain this year, spending £116 million on opening up to 110 new restaurants. Most will be drive-through establishments paying about 90 percent of the new staff by the hour.
McDonald's said it had created almost 4,500 jobs in Britain last year by opening 90 restaurants.