McDonald's looking to heat up U.S. sales with breakfast, coffee

Tue Feb 11, 2014 1:07pm EST
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By Lisa Baertlein

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Raymond Tremblay, a loyal McDonald's Corp (MCD.N: Quote) customer from Los Angeles, thinks the fast-food chain sells tasty food at reasonable prices and he cannot think of a quick fix that would help end the company's disappointing U.S. performance.

"I know it's there and it's always good," Tremblay, 46, said of McDonald's. "Maybe we just kind of take it for granted."

Such customer feedback underscores the challenges faced by the world's biggest restaurant company, which has reported 19 months of turbulent sales at established U.S. restaurants amid sluggish economic growth, stepped-up competition and internal missteps that have complicated its menus and slowed service.

In a recent call with analysts, McDonald's Chief Executive Officer Don Thompson vowed to "create more of a coffee culture through high-quality McCafe products" as well as to double-down on breakfast and sales of food priced around $1 -- in a bid to bolster sales.

Once or twice a week, Tremblay makes a slight detour from his morning commute to pick up coffee and a sausage McMuffin with egg or a sausage burrito.

He has bought the company's flavored coffees, but never orders the espresso drinks made from pricey McCafe machines that McDonald's franchisees installed to compete with Starbucks Corp

(SBUX.O: Quote).

Tremblay, a production artist for an animation firm, is happy when his favorite items are on sale - but he and other customers say that discounts are not enough to change their morning routines.   Continued...