A sense of urgency growing at McDonald's

The Daily Telegraph; 28th February 1997

Press Index

ACCORDING to the Wall Street Journal, "a sense of urgency" is brewing among McDonald's executives, following a "chronic decline" in sales at American outlets. Increasingly, customers are going to restaurants that will serve them an entire meal which they can take home (such as rotisserie chicken, mashed potato and gravy). Could this be the first serious hurdle for a company that has long been synonymous with the irresistible march of capitalism and American culture?

After reaching the 100 billion mark a few years ago, McDonald's stopped counting the total number of burgers it had sold in its 42-year history. In 1993, the Big Mac celebrated its 25th anniversary - enough had been sold to go round the world 35 1/2 times. One in seven Americans have worked for the company.

In April 1986, the Economist magazine started up the Big Mac Index, a yearly column that compares the value of a Big Mac with the value of world currencies. Since Big Macs tend to be locally produced, they are considered an effective proxy for purchase and power parity.

Because the cow is sacred under Hindu law, McDonald's opened its first beef-free restaurant in New Delhi last year, featuring the mutton-based Maharaja Mac. Other recent initiatives include the chain's first ski-through branch in Lindvallen, Sweden.

The prefix "Mc" has generated endless legal wrangling. In 1994, McDonald's claimed that Mary Blair, who runs a sandwich bar in Buckinghamshire called McMunchies, had infringed its copyright.

Not every incident involving McDonald's has helped generate profits. An 82-year-old woman was awarded $1.9 million in 1994, after she burnt herself on hot coffee in a branch in Albuquerque.

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