Briton appointed president and chief executive of burger chain McDonald’s

Steve Easterbrook, the former head of McDonald's in the UK, who has become the first Briton to be ap

Steve Easterbrook, the former head of McDonald's in the UK, who has become the first Briton to be appointed president and chief executive of the US fast food giant. Photo: McDonald's/PA Wire - Credit: PA

The former UK head of McDonald’s has become the first Briton to be appointed president and chief executive of the US fast food giant.

Steve Easterbrook is to replace Don Thompson, who has headed the company for about two and a half years, following a period in which McDonald’s sales in the US have slumped in the face of intense competition and changing consumer tastes.

Watford-born Mr Easterbrook, who was credited with boosting sales for the chain in Britain between 2006 and 2010, is currently the firm’s chief brand officer and a senior executive vice president.

He has spent 20 years climbing his way up the ladder at McDonald’s, having started as a financial manager in 1993. In 2010 he became president of McDonald’s Europe, covering 7,000 outlets in 39 countries.

However, his time at McDonald’s has not been continuous. In 2011, he left to became chief executive of UK chain PizzaExpress and then served as chief executive of Wagamama. He returned to McDonald’s in June 2013 and is now based in Illinois.

Earlier this month the company reported falling earnings and sales for its fourth quarter and said it was going to take action this year to save money and bring back customers. This includes slowing down new restaurant openings in some markets. It is also making menu changes.

Watford-born Mr Easterbrook, who attended Watford Boys Grammar School, studied natural sciences at Durham University before beginning his career at PriceWaterhouseCooper.

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On his Twitter profile he describes himself as a father and a fan of Watford Football Club.

While he is the first Briton to lead McDonald’s, he is not the first from outside the US. Former chief exeuctive Charlie Bell was from Australia.

Mr Thompson will retire on March 1 after nearly 25 years with the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company.