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McDonald's revamps menu, expands in China
Updated: 2004-08-16 08:55

Fast food giant McDonald's Corp. plans to remodel and revamp its menu at existing stores in Europe while setting its sights on building new outlets in China, its global marketing chief said on Friday.

Larry Light said the company is sticking to a strategy, rolled out about a year and a half ago, to get more customers into existing stores in Europe by offering new products such as salads and low-calorie foods, including adult "happy meals" that come with pedometers and similar prizes.

"That strategy is working," Light said at in an interview after an event to promote the company's Olympic sponsorship. "You get a much higher return on assets when you do that, and profitability goes up."

McDonald's has been able to attract more customers to the golden arches around the globe, but the growth in Europe has not been as robust as that in some other regions.

Last month, the company said overall same-store sales, or those at restaurants open at least 13 months, rose nearly 8 percent overall in the second quarter -- up 9.2 percent in the United States, 4.4 percent in Europe and 9.3 percent in the company's combined Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa region.

"Europe was behind the curve that the U.S. was on. Europe is performing today where the U.S. was a couple of years ago," he said. McDonald's operates about 6,000 restaurants in Europe.

One region where the company sees enormous opportunity is China. Light said the company's board of directors will head to China in about two weeks to discuss a growth strategy for the world's most populous nation.

McDonald's has about 600 stores in China and is looking to have about 1,000 by 2006, a company spokesman said.

"China is our number one growth opportunity in the world. We think the market has huge potential," he said.

Light said the company sees a market of about 300 million consumers for its products in the country.

Meanwhile, business has been booming for the company at the Athens Olympics. McDonald's expects to serve up about 2 million hamburger patties at the three facilities it maintains for, athletes, officials and journalists.

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