One week after reporting its first monthly same-store sales decrease in nine years, McDonald’s Corp. has decided to replace Jan Fields as president of McDonald’s USA.
Effective Dec. 1, executive vice president and global chief restaurant officer Jeff Stratton will take over Fields’ role as president of the Oak Brook, Ill.-based chain’s domestic system of more than 14,000 restaurants.
For the month of October, same-store sales for McDonald’s U.S. restaurants fell 2.2 percent. The disappointing result did not take McDonald’s by surprise, as the chain’s chief executive, Don Thompson, warned during a conference call to discuss third-quarter earnings that sales were trending negative. He noted that a calendar shift and a difficult comparison with October 2011 would pressure the result.
Still, Fields’ exit is the company's first major change from an executive standpoint in response to the macroeconomic challenges of slow growth and flagging consumer confidence in the United States and abroad. McDonald’s already detailed plans to grow traffic and market share over the near and long terms during its earnings call and in a separate presentation to investors, outlining steps such as increasing its marketing support for value platforms.
Fields began her 35-year career with McDonald’s as a restaurant crew member, and during her tenure as president of McDonald’s USA, she oversaw major initiatives like the expansion of the McCafe beverage menu, the reimaging of hundreds of restaurants and the National Hiring Day initiative that brought in 60,000 people to work for the brand. Other key projects carried out under her supervision this year included the reformulation of Happy Meals to better meet new nutritional requirements and the posting of calorie counts on all McDonald’s menu boards.
“When I started on fries as a crew member, I had no idea where that job would lead,” Fields said in a statement. “McDonald’s has shaped me as much as I’d like to believe I had a role in shaping it.”
Thompson saluted Fields for “more than three decades of inspired leadership and impactful service under the Arches.”
Her replacement, Stratton, also started his career with McDonald’s at the unit level, beginning as a crew member in Detroit and working his way up the field operations hierarchy. He was named West Division president in 2001, and shortly thereafter he became chief restaurant officer for McDonald’s USA, a role he fulfilled before being promoted to global chief restaurant officer in 2005.
Stratton will report to chief operating officer Tim Fenton.
“I’m honored to assume this leadership role and will remain focused on growing our business and elevating our brand,” he said. “The great people of this company and our loyal customers fuel my strong passion for McDonald’s.”
McDonald’s operates or franchises more than 34,000 restaurants worldwide.