McDonald’s sees sales jump as breakfast focus pays off

pedestrians pass under a McDonald's marquee in New York.
pedestrians pass under a McDonald's marquee in New York. AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

NEW YORK – McDonald’s says the introduction of its all-day breakfast and unseasonably warm weather in the final three months of the year helped lift sales by 5.7 per cent in the U.S., marking the second straight quarter of domestic growth as it fights to win back customers.

Globally, the world’s biggest hamburger chain says sales rose 5 per cent at established locations. McDonald’s is working to turnaround its business under CEO Steve Easterbrook, who took over last March.

One of the biggest changes under Easterbrook was to make breakfast food like the Egg McMuffin available around the clock in the U.S. — an option many customers had long desired. McDonald’s executives have conceded that they failed to keep up with changing tastes and are working to update menus and marketing.

The fast-food giant is also embarking on a new growth strategy in the breakfast segment in Canada, opening standalone McCafe breakfast cafes in Toronto, the first of what should be many, according to Canada president and CEO John Betts.

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“We know this has legs for us,” the McDonald’s executive said.

MORE: McDonald’s to launch standalone McCafe coffee shops in Canada 

The sales jump in the U.S. marks the best showing since the first quarter of 2012, when the comparable-stores sales rose 8.9 per cent.

Sales for the “International Lead” unit, which includes the United Kingdom and Canada, rose 4.2 per cent during the period. The high-growth markets unit, which includes Russia and China, saw sales climb 3 per cent.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, McDonald’s Corp. earned $1.21 billion, beating Wall Street expectations. Total sales were $6.34 billion, also topping what analysts expected.

WATCH: McDonald’s Canada opened its first McCafe stand alone restaurant at Union Station in Toronto Wednesday. Absent is the Big Mac and other staples of the chain. Sean O’Shea reports. 

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