Takeaways from McDonald’s remarkable comeback

CHRIS KEMPCZINSKI is anything but supersized. One year into his tenure, the CEO of McDonald’s is a lean-framed 52-year-old who runs marathons. Hard to believe, then, that he eats a McDonald’s meal twice a day, five days a week. “There are days when I’m indulgent and days when I’m careful about what I’m eating, but I eat a lot of McDonald’s,” he admits in an interview. Indeed he puts many of his best customers to shame. On average, the top 10% of Big Mac bingers visit his restaurants a fifth as regularly as he does.

Perhaps he is making up for lost time. Unusually for a McDonald’s boss, he is not a company lifer. He joined in 2015, hired by his predecessor, Steve Easterbrook, when McDonald’s was on the verge of meltdown. It was floundering in its attempts to compete with innovative American upstarts, such as Chipotle and Shake Shack. Its premises were shabby even as it offered hundreds of items on the menu that many of its customers could not afford. Critics called it a parasite on society, paying low wages and promoting obesity. Mr Kempczinski acknowledges that it suffered from hubris. Under Mr Easterbrook, who took charge in 2015, the mission was to shake it out of its complacency.

What followed was a lesson in corporate renewal that could have made Mr Easterbrook a megastar CEO had he not been fired last year for...



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