McDonald's had another rough month as sales at restaurants open more
than a year slid in April, a month after the world's largest burger company said
the gauge dipped 1% during its first quarter.
This time, the Oak Brook, Ill., chain blamed the 0.6% global decline in large part on fears of the avian flu that has already claimed dozens of lives in China. In the fast food firm's Asia, Middle East and Africa division, same-store sales were down 2.9% last month.
McDonald's also has struggled recently as customers increasingly demand healthful, value-oriented meals, threatening to jump ship to fast-casual competitors such as Five Guys Burgers and Fries and Smashburger.
All this was against what Chief Executive Don Thompson called a "backdrop of a persistently challenging macro environment" in a statement Wednesday.
In Europe, McDonald's largest market by sales, the April gauge slumped 2.4%. The U.S., however, was a bright spot, lifting 0.7% last month on the strength of the breakfast segment and the brand's roll-out of its chicken McWraps product.
On Tuesday, the chain called out Charles Ramsey, the Cleveland resident who earlier this week helped rescue three women from a nearby home where they had been held for years.
"We salute the courage of Ohio kidnap victims & respect their privacy," the company wrote via its @McDonaldsCorp. Twitter account. "Way to go Charles Ramsey- we'll be in touch."
The Wendy's Co., a competitor, announced rosier financials Wednesday. The Dublin, Ohio, chain said overall revenue rose 1.8% to $603.7 million in the first quarter.
At company-owned stores in North America, the chain said it pushed past the effects of bitter weather and calendar shifts for the New Year and Easter holidays to deliver a 1% same-store sales boost.
Profit, however, plunged 83% to $2.1 million, or a penny per share, from $12.4 million, or 3 cents per share a year earlier. But Wendy's attributed the deep drop to a difficult comparison to the first quarter of 2012, when the company's results included a substantial, investment-driven gain.
Wendy's has more than 6,500 company and franchise restaurants around the world, 200 of which it hopes to revamp this year. The company -- like rival Burger King -- is also shaking up other elements to better compete with the Golden Arches.
In March, Wendy's introduced new packaging prominently featuring its perkier logo; the brand has also launched refreshed uniforms, updated menu boards and new products.
The changes come as the restaurant industry girds for sales results expected to show a "deep freeze" in the first quarter caused by cold weather and cost-conscious consumers, according to a forecast this week from Thomson Reuters.
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