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McDonald's serves up UK record

McDonald's today hailed a record year in the UK as the fast food giant reported a 9% rise in worldwide profits during 2010.

The US-headquartered company said the UK business grew in the fourth quarter to December despite a "tough market" - marking its 18th quarter of growth in a row.

Last month's UK snow chaos and extreme winter weather across countries such as Germany saw a more challenging fourth quarter in Europe, with the region's comparable sales growth slowing to 3.4% from 4.1% in the previous three months.

But Jill McDonald, chief executive of McDonald's in the UK, said it was another "strong quarter" of growth for the UK.

"We succeeded in growing our business and gaining market share from competitors in a tough market," she said.

The group served 80 million more UK customers than in 2009. It opened another six UK restaurants and plans further expansion in 2011 that will see 3,000 jobs created.

Restaurant openings for the year ahead include aims to launch 10 new motorway sites in partnership with Roadchef.

Annual figures showed the world's biggest burger chain made net profits of 4.95 billion US dollars (£3.1 billion) in 2010 across its entire business, up from 4.55 billion (£2.85 billion) in 2009.

Fourth quarter profits and sales growth slowed sharply, although McDonald's maintained growth while competitors such as Burger King have struggled.

Net profit growth eased to 2% from 10% in the third quarter and comparable global sales rose by 5%, down from 6%.

The group said its US sales were hit by bad weather in December. It expects global comparable sales growth of between 4% and 5% in January.