McDonald’s promotes Alpha Frater Don Thompson to CEO as Jim Skinner retires
McDonald’s Corp. CEO Jim Skinner is retiring and will be succeeded by the company’s No. 2 executive, President and Chief Operating Officer Don Thompson.
The Oak Brook-based fast-food company said this evening that Mr. Skinner, 67, will leave the company and the board on June 30 after 41 years. Mr. Thompson, 48, will take the helm on July 1.
“Jim’s stellar leadership has driven unprecedented momentum at McDonald’s,” McDonald’s Chairman Andy McKenna said in a statement. “Jim has brought to the table exceptional knowledge of McDonald’s restaurant operations and a keen sense of business know-how. As we look to the future, the board has every confidence that Don’s strategic leadership and global business insight make him the ideal CEO.”
Credited as one of the players in the company’s 2003 “Plan to Win” turnaround strategy, Mr. Skinner, who also was vice chairman, touted “being better, not just bigger” through remodeled restaurants, longer hours, a broader menu and a global marketing message that highlighted balanced and active lifestyles.
“Doing what’s right for our customers and our business has driven my passion as CEO of McDonald’s,” said Mr. Skinner in a statement. “I’m honored to have served and earned the trust of the board, our shareholders, franchisees, suppliers and the men and women of this great company.”
He added that under Mr. Thompson’s leadership, “I am extremely confident in the future of McDonald’s.”
Mr. Thompson is a 22-year McDonald’s veteran who hired on in 1990 as an electrical engineer. Born in Chicago and raised in Indiana, he moved into operations and management and was president of McDonald’s USA from 2006 to 2010 before moving into his current post. He was widely considered the frontrunner for CEO and has been credited with the success of the company’s McCafe beverage expansion.
“I’m humbled to take the baton as CEO of McDonald’s,” Mr. Thompson said in a statement. “Our management team is strong and will remain focused on the Plan to Win and on our three global priorities—optimizing the menu, modernizing the customer experience and broadening our accessibility to even more customers.”
Mr. Thompson is the first African-American to head McDonald’s, the world’s biggest restaurant company measured by revenue. He also is the only African-American CEO of a public company in Chicago and a new addition to the half dozen in the entire Fortune 500.
Mr. Thompson joined McDonald’s board in January 2011. He also is on the boards of Chicago-based Exelon Corp. and Northwestern Memorial Hospital and is a trustee of his alma mater, Purdue University.
McDonald’s has been roll for almost a decade. Its share price jumped 31 percent in 2011, the most of any of the 30 stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Index. The stock closed at $96.72 Wednesday, after topping $100 in late December and as recently as March 7.
By market capitalization, McDonald’s is the biggest company in Illinois. By revenue, which rose to $27 billion last year, it is in the Top 10.
The announcement came just weeks before McDonald’s hosts its biannual worldwide franchisee convention.
Earlier this month, McDonald’s said its February sales missed analysts’ targets due to economic woes and Europe’s brutal winter. The company also surprised analysts by warning that the economy could hurt profits. Up till now, the company has been prospered and stolen market share from rivals.