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McDonald's taps Easterbrook to lead European division

After a little more than two months as McDonald’s global chief brand officer, Steve Easterbrook is headed back overseas to succeed Denis Hennequin as president of the company's European division.

Easterbrook assumes his new post Dec. 1, the day after Hennequin will step down to become chief executive of France-based hotelier Accor.

Industry analysts had speculated that Easterbrook had been on the short list to take over the top European job, along with Tim Fenton, the president of McDonald’s Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa division, as well as three regional presidents from within McDonald’s Europe.

In late August, Easterbrook was promoted from chief executive of McDonald’s United Kingdom and president of McDonald’s Northern Europe to the newly created chief brand officer job. The company said a replacement for that post would be named in the near future pending the search process.

“The opportunity to lead the McDonald’s Europe team is a great honor,” Easterbrook said. “In accepting this position, I’d like to pay tribute to Denis Hennequin for his leadership in driving our business in Europe. We’ll strive to maintain and accelerate our strong momentum by anticipating the needs of our customers, investing in our employees, and further developing our brand.”

Easterbrook, a 43-year-old United Kingdom native, will oversee a system of more than 6,800 restaurants in 39 countries. He will report to McDonald’s president and chief operating officer Don Thompson.

“Steve’s keen knowledge of our business in Europe and his consumer-driven approach to building our brand make him the ideal choice to lead McDonald’s Europe,” Thompson said. “We are confident that his strong commitment to our customers and to our employees will fuel continued success in Europe.”

In his previous stint leading operations in the United Kingdom and Northern Europe, Easterbrook earned the praise of his peers for standing up against the brand’s critics and fighting the “McJob” stigma of the quick-service industry. In 2006, he debated “Fast Food Nation” author Eric Schlosser live on the BBC program “Newsnight.” He also introduced a hospitality apprenticeship program at McDonald’s United Kingdom in 2009 as part of his commitment to improve employees’ functional literacy and math skills.

“The strong performance of McDonald’s Europe is a key component to our overall success, and Steve’s track record shows that he’ll do an excellent job leading the business,” said McDonald’s chief executive Jim Skinner.

Easterbrook joined the company in the United Kingdom in 1993. He became McDonald’s United Kingdom CEO in 2006 and added responsibilities for Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Ireland in 2007.

Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald’s Corp. operates or franchises more than 32,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries.

Contact Mark Brandau at [email protected]


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