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CHICAGO — McDonald's Corporation (NYSE: MCD) announced Wednesday that vice chairman and chief executive officer Jim Skinner, age 67, has informed the board of directors of his decision to retire effective June 30, 2012, after 41 years with the company. McDonald's board has appointed current president and chief operating officer Don Thompson to succeed Skinner as CEO.
McDonald's chairman Andy McKenna states, "Jim has brought to the table exceptional knowledge of McDonald's restaurant operations and a keen sense of business know-how." McKenna feels that the board has every confidence in the strategic leadership and global business insight of Don Thompson. "His track record of performance as President and COO of McDonald's Corporation and president of McDonald's USA speak to his qualifications to further drive the company's momentum," states the chairman of the board.
Skinner became McDonald's CEO in November 2004. He was one of the architects of the Plan to Win, a strategy for "being better, not just bigger" that fueled a revitalization for the chain from sagging sales. The push was marked by upgraded restaurants; diversified menu items; and globalized initiatives. Skinner's leadership will be a hard act to follow. He led the company for nearly nine consecutive years of increased global comparable sales.
Jeff Skinner thinks Thompson is well prepared for the CEO role. "With Don at the helm, I am extremely confident in the future of McDonald's," declares Skinner.
"I'm humbled to take the baton as CEO of McDonald's," states the soon-to-be CEO. He plans to continue to broaden the menu, modernize the stores and expand accessibility to more customers. Thompson declares, "Our franchisees, suppliers and employees are committed to ensuring that McDonald's is our customers' favorite way and place to eat and drink."
48-year old Thompson became President and COO of McDonald's in January 2010. He directs global strategy and operations for McDonald's 33,000 restaurants in 119 countries. Before that, he served as President of McDonald's USA from 2006 until 2010, where he was responsible for 14,000 domestic restaurants.
As a 22-year veteran of McDonald's, Thompson began as an electrical engineer in 1990. Since then, he has held a variety of leadership positions in the U.S. business and global system. In addition to serving on McDonald's Board of Directors, Thompson is a member of the Board of Directors of Exelon Corporation and Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He also is a Trustee of his alma mater, Purdue University.
John Gordon, restaurant analyst of San Diego-based Pacific Management Consulting Group, is familiar with Thompson. He grew up and attended the same high school in Indianapolis. Gordon has monitored earnings calls and other corporate presentations in which Thompson has presented to investors and analysts.
"Don is a very personable, very detailed and data driven individual," observes Gordon. "While he did not grow up professionally in restaurants as did Jim Skinner, he has a good foundation and a good team. McDonalds has been serious about executive transition since 1998 and handled two CEOs dying in position in 2004. The company has an elaborate learning and mentorship program for executives." Gordon emphasizes that Don will continue to execute the McDonald's "Plan to Win" strategy.
Skinner will also step down from McDonald's board of directors, effective June 30, 2012.