Friday, January 28, 2005

McD’s blog.

This has turned into Australia week, and I might as well continue on with that theme today, even if in a small way. Today I listened to McDonald’s fourth quarter earnings conference call—a little more interesting than it sounds, but only a little—and of course the late Charlie Bell was mentioned. He became president and CEO of the hamburger behemoth in 2002, but quit late last year, ill with colorectal cancer. He died about 10 days ago.

I wanted to add a sentence of background on Mr. Bell, so I looked for information. I found out he was only 44—young for a CEO, young to die, and the latter is especially disquieting when you’re 43. I also found out he was an Australian. Funny that such a quintessentially American restaurant chain came to be run by an Australian.

The other bit of news from the McDonald’s call that piqued my interest was the chain’s growth in Europe. The current president alluded to factors impeding the growth of the chain on the Continent, but didn’t spell them out. I suspect that he was thinking of noisy Frenchmen, upset that their countrymen are compelled by American cultural imperialism to eat le Big Macs, and the more laid-back Italian advocates of the slow-food movement.

Despite those impediments, McDonald’s will be opening about 130 new restaurants in Europe this year (compared with 220 in the United States and about as many in Asia), the majority in France and Russia. If I took a quick trip in the way-back machine to, say, 1980, to tell people living then that in 25 years McDonald’s would be growing in a big way in France and behind the Iron Curtain, they would treat me like a lunatic who claimed he was a time traveler. Anyway, I found the news mildly astonishing, even in 2005.


Post a Comment

<< Home