Hire Wire Mar 23 2012

The Big Burger Challenge for Thompson at McDonald's

By julie jargon

Times are good at McDonald's Corp., but it isn't necessarily a good time to step in as CEO.

Don Thompson, who will succeed Jim Skinner as chief executive in July, is ascending at a time when McDonald's has been doing so well for so long that it is hard to see how it can keep growing so robustly. The fast-food giant has enjoyed 106 months of consecutive positive global same-store sales growth.

Thompson, McDonald's president and chief operating officer, brings to the top job a strong track record in the burger giant's core U.S. operations, helped by his training as an engineer and an affable personality that has won over many franchisees and fellow executives.

But the 48-year-old lacks experience overseas at a time when the biggest growth opportunity for restaurant chains now lies in emerging markets like India and China—a country where McDonald's still lags far behind Yum Brands Inc.'s KFC chain.

To read more on McDonald's new chief, click here for WSJ.com.

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