The Company franchises and operates McDonald’s restaurants in the food service industry. These restaurants serve a varied, yet limited, value-priced menu (see Products) in more than 100 countries around the world.
All restaurants are operated either by the Company or by franchisees, including conventional franchisees under franchise arrangements, and foreign affiliated markets and developmental licensees under license agreements.
The Company’s operations are designed to assure consistency and high quality at every restaurant. When granting franchises or licenses, the Company is selective and generally is not in the practice of franchising to passive investors.
Under the conventional franchise arrangement, franchisees provide a portion of the capital required by initially investing in the equipment, signs, seating and décor of their restaurant businesses, and by reinvesting in the business over time. The Company owns the land and building or secures long-term leases for both Company-operated and conventional franchised restaurant sites. In certain circumstances, the Company participates in reinvestment for conventional franchised restaurants.
Conventional franchisees contribute to the Company’s revenue stream through the payment of rent and royalties based upon a percent of sales, with specified minimum rent payments, along with initial fees received upon the opening of a new restaurant or the granting of a new franchise term. The conventional franchise arrangement typically lasts 20 years, and franchising practices are generally consistent throughout the world. Over 70% of franchised restaurants operate under conventional franchise arrangements.
The Company has an equity investment in a limited number of foreign affiliated markets, referred to as affiliates. The largest of these affiliates is Japan, where there are 3,714 restaurants. The Company receives a royalty based on a percent of sales in these markets.
Under a developmental license arrangement, licensees provide capital for the entire business, including the real estate interest. While the Company has no capital invested, it receives a royalty based on a percent of sales, as well as initial fees. During 2007, the Company sold its businesses in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and 13 other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, which totaled 1,571 restaurants, to a developmental licensee organization. These markets are referred to as “Latam.”
The Company and its franchisees purchase food, packaging, equipment and other goods from numerous independent suppliers. The Company has established and strictly enforces high quality standards and product specifications. The Company has quality assurance labs around the world to ensure that its high standards are consistently met. The quality assurance process not only involves ongoing product reviews, but also on-site inspections of suppliers’ facilities. Further, a quality assurance board, composed of the Company’s technical, safety and supply chain specialists, provides strategic global leadership for all aspects of food quality and safety. In addition, the Company works closely with suppliers to encourage innovation, assure best practices and drive continuous improvement. Leveraging scale, supply chain infrastructure and risk management strategies, the Company also collaborates with suppliers toward a goal of achieving competitive, predictable food and paper costs over the long term.
Independently owned and operated distribution centers, approved by the Company, distribute products and supplies to most McDonald’s restaurants. In addition, restaurant personnel are trained in the proper storage, handling and preparation of products and in the delivery of customer service.
McDonald’s global brand is well known. Marketing, promotional and public relations activities are designed to promote McDonald’s brand image and differentiate the Company from competitors. Marketing and promotional efforts focus on value, food taste, menu choice and the customer experience. The Company endeavors to continuously improve its social and environmental performance to achieve long-term sustainability, which benefits McDonald’s and the communities it serves.
In February 2009, the Company sold its minority ownership interest in Redbox Automated Retail, LLC. and in April 2008, the Company sold its minority ownership interest in U.K.-based Pret A Manger. The Company operated Boston Market in the U.S., prior to its sale in August 2007.
McDonald’s restaurants offer a substantially uniform menu, although there may be geographic variations. In addition, McDonald’s tests new products on an ongoing basis.
McDonald’s menu includes hamburgers and cheeseburgers, Big Mac, Quarter Pounder with Cheese, Filet-O-Fish, several chicken sandwiches, Chicken McNuggets, Chicken Selects, Snack Wraps, french fries, premium salads, shakes, McFlurry desserts, sundaes, soft serve cones, pies, cookies, soft drinks, coffee, McCafé beverages and other beverages. In addition, the restaurants sell a variety of other products during limited-time promotions.
McDonald’s restaurants in the U.S. and many international markets offer a full or limited breakfast menu. Breakfast offerings may include Egg McMuffin, Sausage McMuffin with Egg, McGriddles, biscuit and bagel sandwiches, hotcakes and muffins.
The Company owns or is licensed to use valuable intellectual property including trademarks, service marks, patents, copyrights, trade secrets and other proprietary information. The Company considers the trademarks “McDonald’s” and “The Golden Arches Logo” to be of material importance to its business. Depending on the jurisdiction, trademarks and service marks generally are valid as long as they are used and/or registered. Patents, copyrights and licenses are of varying remaining durations.
The Company does not consider its operations to be seasonal to any material degree.
• Working capital practices
Information about the Company’s working capital practices is incorporated herein by reference to Management’s discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations for the years ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007 in Part II, Item 7, pages 10 through 28, and the Consolidated statement of cash flows for the years ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007 in Part II, Item 8, page 32 of this Form 10-K.
The Company’s business is not dependent upon either a single customer or small group of customers.
Company-operated restaurants have no backlog orders.
• Government contracts
No material portion of the business is subject to renegotiation of profits or termination of contracts or subcontracts at the election of the U.S. government.
McDonald’s restaurants compete with international, national, regional and local retailers of food products. The Company competes on the basis of price, convenience, service, menu variety and product quality in a highly fragmented global restaurant industry.
In measuring the Company’s competitive position, management reviews data compiled by Euromonitor International, a leading source of market data with respect to the global restaurant industry. The Company’s primary competition, which management refers to as the Informal Eating Out (IEO) segment, includes the following restaurant categories defined by Euromonitor International: quick-service eating establishments, casual dining full-service restaurants, 100% home delivery/takeaway providers, street stalls or kiosks, specialist coffee shops and self-service cafeterias. The IEO segment excludes establishments that primarily serve alcohol and full-service restaurants other than casual dining.
Based on data from Euromonitor International, the global IEO segment was composed of approximately 5.9 million outlets and generated $875 billion in annual sales in 2008, the most recent year for which data is available. McDonald’s global 2008 restaurant business accounted for approximately 0.5% of those outlets and about 8% of the sales.
Management also on occasion benchmarks McDonald’s against the entire restaurant industry, including the IEO segment defined above and all other full-service restaurants. Based on data from Euromonitor International, the restaurant industry was composed of approximately 12.6 million outlets and generated about $1.85 trillion in annual sales in 2008. McDonald’s global restaurant business accounted for approximately 0.2% of those outlets and about 4% of the sales.
• Research and development
The Company operates research and development facilities in the U.S., Europe and Asia. While research and development activities are important to the Company’s business, these expenditures are not material. Independent suppliers also conduct research activities that benefit the Company, its franchisees and suppliers (collectively referred to as the System).
• Environmental matters
Increased focus by U.S. and overseas governmental authorities on environmental matters is likely to lead to new governmental initiatives, particularly in the area of climate change. While we cannot predict the precise nature of these initiatives, we expect that they may impact our business both directly and indirectly. Although the impact would likely vary by world region and/or market, we believe that adoption of new regulations may increase costs, including for the Company, its franchisees and suppliers. Also, there is a possibility that governmental initiatives, or actual or perceived effects of changes in weather patterns or climate, could have a direct impact on the operations of our restaurants or the operations of our suppliers in ways which we cannot predict at this time.
The Company continually monitors developments related to environmental matters and plans to respond to governmental initiatives in a timely and appropriate manner. At this time, the Company has already undertaken its own initiatives relating to preservation of the environment, including the development of means of monitoring and reducing energy use, in many of its markets.
• Number of employees
The Company’s number of employees worldwide, including Company-operated restaurant employees, was approximately 385,000 as of year-end 2009.
e. Available information
The Company is subject to the informational requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act). The Company therefore files periodic reports, proxy statements and other information with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Such reports may be obtained by visiting the Public Reference Room of the SEC at 100 F Street, NE, Washington, D.C. 20549,