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McDonald's is facing a 'deep depression' and could be in its 'final days', say US franchise owners

The McDonald's 'turnaround plan' seems to be making life difficult for the franchise owners

Doug Bolton
Sunday 18 October 2015 23:12 BST
Many franchisees said the introduction of all-day breakfast in the US has put a strain on their kitchens
Many franchisees said the introduction of all-day breakfast in the US has put a strain on their kitchens

McDonald's is facing a "deep depression" and could be in its "final days," according to some US franchise owners who were surveyed about the restaurant chain's recent performance.

In an attempt to shore up a slump, McDonald's introduced all-day breakfasts in its US stores, part of CEO Steve Easterbrook's 'turnaround plan' which also included digital ordering kiosks and other new menu items.

However, it seems like the new initiatives have simply caused headaches for restaurant operators, as they said in a survey conducted by analyst Mark Kalinowski.

"We are in the throes of a deep depression, and nothing is changing," wrote one franchisee.

"The CEO is sowing the seeds of our demise. We are a quick-serve fast-food restaurant, not a fast casual like Five Guys or Chipotle. The system may be facing its final days," said another.

The all-day breakfast has reportedly thrown a spanner in the works of the kitchens, with an extra range of menu items resulting in more pressure on the staff and a higher chance of mistakes.

Other new ideas from head office currently in place in the US is the 'Create Your Taste' option, which allows customers to create their own burger from 30 different ingredients - obviously a big change for a restaurant chain more accustomed to dishing out a few staples at fast pace.

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Other initiatives, some of which have been restricted to a few locations, include 'healthier' menu items like the kale breakfast bowl, and a gritty reboot of the chain's beloved Hamburglar character.

It's part of McDonald's plans to reverse an almost two-year decline in sales in the US, but some restaurant operators aren't impressed.

"The system is very lost at the moment. Our menu boards are still bloated, and we are still trying to be too many things to too many people."

"Things are broken from the franchisee perspective," one wrote.

Franchisees operate 81 per cent of McDonald's restaurants globally, so failing to improve their morale could pose bigger problems further down the line.

29 franchisees, who between them operate 226 restaurants, were interviewed by Kalinowski and asked to five their six-month forecast from 1 (bad) to 5 (excellent). The average score was 1.69, the lowest ever since the survey began 12 years ago.

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