Prepared Foods November 28, 2005 e-newsletter

Think of McDonald's, and most people picture burgers and fries. However, Asian stir-fry dinners could soon be on the menu as well. The move is part of the food chain's crusade for a new image.

McDonald's Australia chief executive Peter Bush, visiting the Kings Park restaurant in Adelaide, said the company was embarking on a five-year plan to renovate its stores and introduce menu changes.

"Burgers and fries are not really something people eat for dinner much any more," Bush said. "We are looking at having a range of products that would be the sort of things people eat for dinner, by the end of next year.

McDonald's is spending $100 million to renovate its company-owned restaurants around Australia -- about a quarter are company-owned. Franchisees are spending a similar amount.

A restaurant opening at Smithfield in two weeks would represent "the latest McDonald's thinking," Bush said. The company aims to convert its free-standing restaurants to a McCafe format with cakes and muffins.

Bush said that with the proliferation of other food franchises, such as baguette bars and Asian food chains, McDonald's had lost about 8% of its market during the past 10 years.

However, the company had grown between 25% to 30% in the past three years with the introduction of new foods and a new image.

He said the McDonald's Australia turnover between $2 billion and $2.5 billion was expected to grow to more than $3 billion in five years, with another 90 restaurants planned across Australia.

The company is also embarking on a major expansion into China.

"There are 280 million people in the U.S., where we have 13,000 restaurants," Bush said. "In China, there are 500 million people who could afford to buy McDonald's, and we have 800 restaurants there."

Source: The Advertiser