Steve Easterbrook took the helm of McDonald’s in March 2015 and quickly set to work to help save the company after it experienced a 15 percent shortfall in profits the year before.
Easterbrook helped raise the company’s profit margin by more than 12 percent in the first nine months of his takeover, getting margins from 13.62 percent to more than 25 percent. The former CEO also got the company’s share’s to double during his tenure.
‘Part of my mindset early on was, how can we organize ourselves, as a large, somewhat complex business, so we can adapt and be more nimble?’ he said in an interview with Entrepreneur. ‘Instead of using our size as an excuse, [how can we] amplify our size as an advantage and respond to customers?’
In the first three months of his time as CEO, Easterbrook regrouped and consolidated market segment by need, instead of by geographic region. He created four market segments for the company – the US, international lead markets, high-growth markets and foundational markets.
For example, China and South Korea markets were taken out of the Asia/Pacific/Middle East/Africa region and placed in the ‘high-growth’ category.
Improving food quality was a top priority for Easterbrook.
‘In the last five years, the world has moved faster outside the business than inside,’ he said. ‘The business cannot ignore what customers are saying when the message is clear: We’re not on our game.’
Easterbrook cut several items off McDonald’s menu – including a Deluxe Quarter Pounder burger and six chicken sandwiches. He had the chain take out hard-to-pronounce ingredients and announced the limited run of the Sirloin Third Pounder.
During the first part of 2016, He got sales to rise more than 5.7 percent. Easterbrook was also a crucial supporter of using fresh beef in the company’s burger, a move McDonald’s implemented in 2017.
The CEO managed to get McDonald’s to increase its percentage of franchised stores from 81 percent to 91 percent in less than three years, surpassing his goal to get 4,000 franchised by 2019. This was largely in part because of a deal made to sell 2,740 restaurants in Hong Kong and China to Citic and the Carlyle Group.
But Easterbrook was already making his mark with the company more than two decades prior to his role as CEO.
Easterbrook joined the company’s team in 1993 as a financial reporting manager in London before becoming the executive in charge of all McDonald’s in the southern UK, according to Brittanica.
In 2006 he was selected to manage all of the UK’s operation but would move on to manage the whole northern Europe region (approximately 1800 restaurants) in less than a year.
After a brief hiatus away from the company, Easterbrook returned in 2013 as the senior executive vice president and chief brand officer.
Easterbrook worked to repair McDonald’s reputation in China after a scandal involving sketchy meat in 2014. He helped rollout customized hamburgers in Australia and in the US. The innovator empathized on convenience, helping implement dual-lane drive-thrus at the restaurant and the popular all-day breakfast menu.