OAK BROOK, IL: McDonald's chief executive Don Thompson has stepped down days after reporting falling profits, with British-born chief brand officer Steve Easterbrook lined up to take the reins of the business.
This week, Thompson announced a 4% fall in US sales and 7% decline in global sales, while the UK generated "positive comparable sales and operating income." He has been in the top job for two-and-a-half years and will be replaced by Easterbrook in March.
Now the SVP and chief brand officer of McDonald’s, he has been credited with leading the brand’s marketing, menu innovation, and creating "an infrastructure for its digital initiatives."
Easterbrook has also been lauded for turning around McDonald’s UK business, which he ran from 2006, before becoming president of McDonald’s Europe.
He left the group in 2011 to run Pizza Express, and a year after that joined Wagamama, before returning to McDonald’s in 2013 to head up its global brand operations.
His appointment comes at a challenging time for McDonald's. Earlier this week, it reported that its full-year profit was down 15% to $4.7 billion and global sales were down 7% to $6.5 billion. The results fell short of analyst predictions, which forecasted sales of $6.7 billion.
"It’s tough to say goodbye to the McFamily, but there is a time and season for everything," said Thompson, who joined McDonald’s in 1990 as an electrical engineer. "I am truly confident as I pass the reins over to Steve, that he will continue to move our business and brand forward."
Easterbrook will become the fast-food chain's first non-American chief executive officer.
"I am honored to lead this great brand, and am committed to working with our franchisees, suppliers, and employees to drive forward our strategic business priorities to better serve our customers," he said.
This story originally appeared on Marketing.