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McDonald’s details plan to slim down, localize menu

McDonald’s will switch this January to a simplified menu that gives franchisees the option of slotting items from the chain’s global roster of products to fit local preferences, CEO Don Thompson revealed yesterday.

He cited such elective items as mozzarella sticks and the new Chorizo Burrito, but suggested a product offered anywhere in the system, in or outside of the United States, could be an option.

“This shift will enable us to better harness and build on the thinking and the power of the 3,000-plus franchises and their entrepreneurial spirit and our restaurant executives who are closest to local market conditions,” Thompson told investors yesterday.

Similarly, he said, the chain’s 150 regional marketing cooperatives in the United States will be given the autonomy to select promotions from the chain’s library of business-building programs.  The local campaigns will complement national campaigns focusing on food quality and brand attributes.

“We are moving to more regionalize local windows again, which is a strength of the McDonald system, and we have moved away from that,” Thompson commented during the conference call with financial analysts.

Other comments from Thompson and CFO Pete Bensen suggested that the company might also trim its U.S. management structure.

Bensen noted that third-party advisors have been retained to analyze general and administrative expenses and identify dollars that could be re-invested in growth initiatives. About $100 million in G&A expenses would be redeployed, Bensen said.

The company had said earlier that new McDonald’s USA president Mike Andres intended to flatten the domestic division’s management structure so decisions could be made at levels closer to the field.

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