McDonald’s make Brit brand guy new CEO

Hats off to 47 year old Brit Steve Easterbrook, who has just been named as CEO of Mc Donald's. He replaces Don Thompson, who left after two-and-a-half years in the job, following same-store sales dropping in 2014 for the first time in 12 years.

There are a few interesting lessons in this story.

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1. Brand people can get to the top

Steve was previously Chief Brand Officer, responsible for Marketing, Consumer and Business Insights, and Menu Development. So, it seems marketing and branding can be a route to the top. Having said this, he did start in Finance right at the start, and of course was MD of UK then Europe.

2. Growing the core is key

Steve has made his way to the top on the back of revitalising the UK Mc Donald's business from 2006, as I posted on here back in 2007. His focus was on refreshing the core business, through making food healthier, updating store design and introducing fresh ground coffee to upgrade the breakfast offer.

It seems that re-focusing on the core will be back on Steve's agenda in his new role, with reports saying that "McDonald's is trying to simplify its menu amid tough competition from fast restaurant chains such as Chipotle, and a consumer shift to healthier options."

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3. It can pay to leave, refresh, then return

One of the most interesting parts of Steve's success stories is that he actually left Mc Donald's in 2011.He became CEO of PizzaExpress and then CEO of Wagamama, before returning to Mc Donald's in 2013. My guess is that those two years were valuable in getting insight into two businesses that have i) done a good job at creating tasty food that is also wholesome (e.g. Pizza Express pizzas with a hole filled with salad) and, ii) built their brand with limited marketing investment, relying instead on a distinctive product and customer experience. 

So, many congratulations to Steve. All eyes will be on him to see if he can revitalise the core of Mc Donald's again and get it growing. Time for a punt on Mickey D shares perhaps?