McDonald’s Is Opening 10,000 New Locations (Is One Coming to Your Town?)

McDonald's lofty expansion plan presents investor and customers with plenty of opportunity.
Updated May 8, 2024
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McDonald's, the global fast-food giant, is gearing up for a period of unprecedented growth, with plans to open approximately 10,000 new restaurants worldwide. Are you getting a new restaurant near you? 

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This ambitious expansion, coupled with a strategic focus on doubling sales from its loyalty program and increasing its user base to a staggering 250 million customers, marks a significant milestone in the company's history that stands to benefit both the company and its customers.

McDonald's growth commitment

McDonald's growth plans include an ambitious goal: opening 10,000 new restaurants globally by 2027. They haven't yet announced where they are opening new locations yet. However, this endeavor is poised to become the fast-food giant's fastest period of growth in its storied history. The expansion plan includes opening about 7,000 stores in international developmental licensed markets, encompassing countries such as China, India, Japan, and Brazil. 

Notably, more than half of these new stores are earmarked for China, a strategic move in McDonald's second-largest market. While existing store sales grew about 9% worldwide in Q3, the company stated it was with reduced traffic in its U.S. market. With this initiative, McDonald's aims to bolster its global store count to approximately 50,000 by 2027, signifying a significant leap in its global footprint and perhaps responding to decreasing demand in the U.S.

Strategic focus on loyalty program

In addition to the extensive expansion plans, McDonald's is doubling down on its loyalty program to help reach its user base goal of 250 million customers by 2027 — up from the current 150 million users. The loyalty program is a  proven powerhouse, generating over $20 billion in annual system-wide sales. With an ambitious plan to increase this figure to $45 billion, McDonald's aims to capitalize on the loyalty of its customers and the success of its affordable meal items, aggressive promotions, and effective marketing campaigns. The program aims to help customers eliminate some money stress when they eat. 

CEO Chris Kempczinski emphasized the resilience of McDonald's in the face of choppy U.S. consumer spending, attributing it to the affordability of menu items and the effectiveness of promotional strategies, during the company’s investor day. Despite uncertainties about the consumer landscape in the coming year, the company remains optimistic about its growth trajectory.

Global expansion strategy

Notably, McDonald’s massive expansion plan is focused outside the U.S., with the majority of new stores planned for international developmental licensed markets. These include key regions such as China, India, Japan, and Brazil, presenting a strategic alignment with the growing consumer base in these countries. China, in particular, is set to witness a substantial influx of McDonald's stores, following a recent deal that grants the company greater control over its business in the region.

The "Best Burger" initiative, aimed at enhancing the quality of McDonald's burgers, will also play a pivotal role in the growth strategy. Expected to be deployed in nearly all markets by 2026, this initiative underscores McDonald's commitment to elevating its offerings and meeting evolving consumer expectations.

Innovations and strategic partnerships

In tandem with its growth plans, McDonald's is embracing innovation and technology to enhance its operations. One such partnership is with Alphabet's Google Cloud to deploy artificial intelligence (AI) solutions across its restaurants globally. The integration of AI aims to provide McDonald's with enhanced visibility into each store, optimize cost-saving opportunities, and ensure faster delivery of hotter and fresher food to customers.

Potential benefits for consumers

As McDonald's embarks on this era of expansive growth, consumers stand to benefit on multiple fronts. The increased accessibility of McDonald's stores globally means that more individuals can enjoy the convenience and familiar offerings of the iconic fast-food chain. Additionally, the focus on enhancing the quality of burgers through the "Best Burger" initiative aligns with evolving consumer preferences for higher-quality and diverse menu options.

Moreover, the strategic investments in the loyalty program present an opportunity for customers to engage more deeply with McDonald's offerings, and avail themselves of exclusive. The potential for expanded delivery options and enhanced operational efficiency through AI solutions could further elevate the overall consumer experience.

Bottom line

McDonald's bold growth plan, encompassing the opening of 10,000 new stores and a renewed focus on its loyalty program, signals a transformative phase for the iconic fast-food brand. As the company extends its global reach, explores innovative technologies, and enhances its menu offerings, both McDonald's and its customers are poised to reap the rewards of this ambitious strategy. 

Despite the international growth strategy, McDonald’s overall growth initiatives present U.S. investors with an opportunity. The company has long been a solid, dividend-paying blue chip stock, and its ambitious growth plan only makes the fast-food behemoth all the more reasonable of a buy.

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Author Details

Georgina Tzanetos Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who has been active in financial media for the past six years. She holds a master's in political economy from NYU, where she studied distressed labor markets.

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