President of McDonald’s USA to retire
President of McDonald’s USA to retire

Jeff Stratton, president of McDonald’s USA, will retire in mid-October after 41 years with the Oak Brook, Illinois-based hamburger chain.

[caption id="attachment_18023" align="alignright" width="138" caption="Mike Andres "][/caption]

Most recently, Andres had been chief executive of th.....

Jeff Stratton, president of McDonald’s USA, will retire in mid-October after 41 years with the Oak Brook, Illinois-based hamburger chain.

[caption id="attachment_18023" align="alignright" width="138" caption="Mike Andres "][/caption]

Most recently, Andres had been chief executive of the Logan’s Roadhouse casual-dining chain since 2012. But prior to that he worked at McDonald’s for three decades, including as head of Boston Market when it was a McDonald’s subsidiary, and as president of McDonald’s Central division.

“I’m thrilled to be back at McDonald’s,” Andres said in a statement. “It’s an honor to return to the industry leader as part of a talented team. Together, we’ll focus on our customers as we capitalize on the opportunities in the U.S. market.”

That domestic market has struggled all year, recording negative same-store sales every month except April, when that result was flat compared with a year earlier. In July 2014 alone, same-store sales decreased 3.2 percent, contributing to a 2.5-percent global decline, the brand’s worst worldwide performance in a month in nearly 10 years.

Among the plans McDonald’s officials have laid out for reversing sales declines are the adoption of a “high-density kitchen” suite of equipment and the reformulation of its value menu to Dollar Menu & More, both of which have provoked pushback from its more than 2,000 franchisees in the United States. A small sample of McDonald’s owner-operators surveyed by Janney Capital Markets this year called for the chain to simplify its menu, which they repeatedly contended had grown too unwieldy to execute with the necessary speed of service and order accuracy.

The transition from Stratton to Andres as president of McDonald’s USA probably would not affect the franchisees’ mind-set, Richard Adams of consulting firm Franchise Equity Group said in an email to 1851 Magazine.

“The typical franchisee might hear the president of McDonald’s USA give a speech once a year,” wrote Adams, a former McDonald’s owner-operator who now consults franchisees and helps Janney conduct its quarterly franchisee survey. “It is extraordinary that McDonald’s would rehire someone who had gone off to work for another restaurant chain. That’s never happened before.”

Dennis Lombardi, executive vice president of Columbus, Ohio-based WD Partners, said Andres’ brief sojourn at Logan’s Roadhouse could be viewed as “an interesting sabbatical” that gave him experience as a change agent and some perspective from outside quick service. Of course, Lombardi added, before that post Andres was part of the executive team that turned around a flagging U.S. business for McDonald’s once before, with the “Plan to Win” that drove an enviable growth streak from 2003 to 2012.

“That experience, plus the McDonald’s ketchup still in his veins, is certainly not a negative,” Lombardi said. “It’s an interesting perspective, as opposed to that from somebody who never left the company.”

He speculated that Andres’ first task would be to address speed of service and throughput, which chief executive Don Thompson recently told investors must improve before McDonald’s can take on transformative initiatives like digital ordering or customizable sandwiches. Thompson added that McDonald’s would consider further changes to its menu and its marketing during the company’s second-quarter earnings call.

The Golden Arches also has fallen behind Burger King and Wendy’s in the race to roll out a mobile solution to enable digital ordering and loyalty.

“Any new executive must take a few deep breaths and understand what works and what doesn’t work and why,” Lombardi advised. “Otherwise, you get into ‘fire, ready, aim’ mode, which is never good.”

In a statement, Thompson said McDonald’s was “deeply grateful for [Stratton’s] years of leadership and service.”

“When I tapped Jeff to assume the role of McDonald’s USA president nearly two years ago, I asked him to lay the foundation for future growth in the U.S. market,” Thompson said. “No one has worked more tirelessly to do that for this brand than Jeff.”

ADVERTISEMENT