McDonald’s names brand chief Steve Easterbrook as CEO

McDonald’s chief brand officer Steve Easterbrook is to replace Don Thompson as president and chief executive of the business.

He will become first Brit to take on the role from March when Thompson will retire after 25 years at the company.

Easterbrook’s promotion sees him assume responsibility for more than 36,000 stores worldwide and some 69 million estimated customers in more than 100 countries per day.

The appointment comes just two years after Easterbrook returned to the business in the same chief brand officer role following a stint as chief executive of Wagamama. Prior to that he was chief executive of Pizza Express.

It amounts to a 20-year period at the company, in which Easterbrook has held several senior marketing and executive roles. He was promoted to global chief brand officer in 2010, the first people to assume the title within the company, and is credited with masterminding the turnaround of its UK business when he was president of the region.

He takes over the company coming off the back of its worst performance in 30 years with it struggling amid intense competition as well as counting the costs of several health scares in China. Despite the downturn, McDonald’s has marked 2015 as the start of its turnaround, relying on wholesale changes to its marketing to usher in a more customer-orientated business strategy.

Thompson, who started as an electrical engineer, took the chief executive role in 2012 after serving as president of McDonald’s USA and operating chief. “It’s tough to say goodbye to the McFamily, but there is a time and a season for everything,” he said.

The announcement continues the upheaval at the company that has seen its marketing team in the US restructure around customer demographics instead of products and the rapid expansion of a digital division. Thompson singled poor marketing last year as one of the reasons the company had struggled to win back lapsed younger diners, which led to its new brand strategy at the turn of the year.

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