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McDonald’s burger empire set for unprecedented growth over the next 4 years with 10,000 new stores

The company said the explosive growth of delivery demand makes it critical to get restaurant locations even closer to customers for faster delivery times

A woman sits on a swing attached to a giant sign of McDonald's, outside its themed exhibition in Beijing, China December 4, 2023
A woman sits on a swing attached to a giant sign of McDonald's, outside its themed exhibition in Beijing, China December 4, 2023.TINGSHU WANG (REUTERS)

McDonald’s expects to open nearly 10,000 restaurants over the next four years, a pace of growth that would be unprecedented even for the world’s largest burger chain.

At an investor update Wednesday, the Chicago burger giant said it aims to have 50,000 restaurants in operation worldwide by the end of 2027. McDonald’s had 40,275 restaurants at the start of this year.

It plans to open 900 new stores in the U.S. and 1,900 in some of its bigger international markets like Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia. The company said it plans another 7,000 stores in other international markets; more than half of those would be in China.

Manu Steijaert, McDonald’s chief customer officer, said it took 33 years for the company to open its first 10,000 restaurants; by comparison, it took 18 years to grow from 30,000 to 40,000. But the company believes its current footprint isn’t meeting demand, especially in faster-growing regions of the U.S.

The company also said the explosive growth of delivery demand makes it critical to get restaurant locations even closer to customers for faster delivery times. McDonald’s delivery made up $1 billion in global sales in 2017; that has grown to more than $16 billion.

“No matter how the customer chooses to order, out ability to serve them relies on our locations,” Steijaert said. McDonald’s shares were flat Wednesday.

The company also announced a partnership with Google Cloud, which it said Wednesday will help it accelerate automated services and reduce complexity for its employees.

McDonald’s same-store sales rose nearly 9% worldwide in the third quarter, even as U.S. traffic fell slightly. The company is focused on core menu items like Quarter Pounders and fries which, according to McDonald’s, make up 65% of sales systemwide.

Burgers with softer, freshly toasted buns, meltier cheese and more Big Mac sauce are coming to U.S. restaurants by the end of 2024 and most other markets by the end of 2025. McDonald’s said chicken sales are now on par with beef, and it plans to bring its McCrispy sandwich to nearly all global markets by 2025.

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