McDonald's serves up record-breaking year

The UK was McDonald's best performing major market last year as consumers were drawn to its value meals in the recession, the firm said today.

McDonald's hailed a "record breaking" performance in 2009 with like-for-like sales up 11 per cent and 7.5 per cent growth in the number of customer visits.

The fast food giant today announced plans to create another 5,000 jobs in 2010 as its restaurants are now busier and open longer, while 10 to 15 new outlets are also planned.

McDonald's brushed off the recessionary gloom with its strongest results in four years as it grew its share of the market. The chain has grown UK sales by £465 million during the past four years.

The firm has seen an upswing in consumers seeking out its Extra Value Meals in the difficult economic environment.

Steve Easterbrook, chief executive of McDonald's UK, said "now more than ever" value was important to customers and the firm wanted to offer "good food that is affordable to everyone".

The firm has seen growth across its menus, with particular demand for its Saver Menu and a new Little Tasters value offer.

"If you have just got a pound in your pocket you know there is always something for you in McDonald's," he said.

The firm added that it gained share in a declining eating out market in 2009.

Mr Easterbrook said the company invested in upgrading the quality of the ingredients it uses and customers also reacted positively when ethical products like organic milk were used - as long as the price was kept the same.

He predicted the firm would continue to be attractive to customers even if the economy pulls itself out of recession as expected.

"Whilst the economy may return to growth I don't see that being returned to people's pay packets so value will always be important," he said.

McDonald's, which spent £95 million on its refurbishment programme last year, is in the process of a cafe-style refit for its 1,200 stores and Mr Easterbrook said the programme is about halfway through.

He said restaurants that had been refitted performed 6 per cent better than the market.

McDonald's UK outdid the global group, which saw like-for-like sales of 3.8 per cent. Mr Easterbrook said the country was the top performer of the firm's best 10 markets.

The 5,000 new jobs will mainly be in existing restaurants as they gear up for longer opening hours - taking advantage of breakfast and late night customers - and increasing customer numbers.

McDonald's added 6,000 jobs last year, 2,000 more than it had expected and taking its overall headcount to 80,000.

Group net income was up 6 per cent at 4.55 billion US dollars (£2.83 billion).

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