McDonald’s says CEO Jim Skinner retiring

OAK BROOK, Ill. (AP) — McDonald’s Corp. said Wednesday that CEO Jim Skinner will retire later this year and be succeeded by the company’s president, a 22-year veteran at the world’s biggest hamburger chain.

Skinner, 67, will step on June 30 after 41 years with Oak Brook-based McDonald’s. He was named CEO in 2004.

Donald Thompson, 48, will take over the helm July 1, the company said. In his current job, Thompson is responsible for global strategy and operations for the more than 33,000 McDonald’s restaurants in 119 countries. He will be the first African American to head McDonald’s, which was founded in 1955.

Under Skinner, McDonald’s has undertaken an effort to upgrade its image by remodeling restaurants and adding menu items like smoothies and oatmeal to try to draw in healthier eaters. It has also added lattes and other coffee drinks to try to appeal to customers who might otherwise go to Starbucks.

McDonald’s still was able to post strong results through the recession by attracting cash-strapped customers with low prices and limited-time specials.

Recently it has faced challenges including the economic turmoil in Europe, McDonald’s largest market by revenue, and rising costs for its ingredients and labor.

Andy McKenna, chairman of McDonald’s board, said in a statement that Thompson’s track record “speak to his qualifications to further drive the company’s momentum.”

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