• Wed. Oct 5th, 2022

McDonald’s CEO speaks out against crime in Chicago while touting new innovation lab | Franchise News

ByStephanie M. Akbar

Sep 15, 2022

McDonald’s will open a new innovation center called Speedee Labs at its downtown Chicago headquarters, relocating 120 jobs from its current suburban center, CEO Chris Kempczinski said during a provocative speech at the Economic Club yesterday. of Chicago.

“We’re betting on Chicago,” but McDonald’s commitment to the city “isn’t unlimited, it’s not unconditional,” he said when discussing crime and departures from corporate headquarters. company, including Boeing, Caterpillar and Citadel. “There is a general feeling that our city is in crisis.”

Appointed president and CEO of McDonald’s in 2019, Kempczinski said he always gets questions as he travels the world: “What’s going on in Chicago?” Later, during a question and answer session with Mary Dillon, CEO of Foot Locker and former director of global marketing at McDonald’s, he asked the audience at the Economic Club: “How many people, on a show of hands here, say they know what the plan is? Exactly what are we doing? What are the metrics? How are we going to track progress?” in dealing with crime.

“I mean, that’s what you do in business, day in and day out. You have a plan, you have a set of vectors, you have milestones, you track progress. How are we doing?” He said crime “seeps into every corner of our city…and can become pervasive in the psyche.”

Violent crimes, drug overdoses in restaurants

During the Q&A session at the high profile club whose members include business tycoons, Dillon asked about the impact “with the crime situation” on McDonald’s employees. “As I mentioned, we have 400 restaurants in this city, employing tens of thousands of people, and it’s being felt more significantly in restaurants every day,” he said. “Certainly, we have violent crime in our restaurants, we see homelessness in our restaurants, we have drug overdoses in our restaurants. Whatever happens in society, it happens at McDonald’s.”

The ties between McDonald’s and the city of Chicago “run very deep,” he said, noting that legendary frontman Ray Kroc made sure to open landmark stores, including his first, his 100e and its 2,000e in the Chicago area. “In Chicagoland, we operate 400 restaurants. We’ve spent $20 million to renovate restaurants in the Chicago area. As a global company, we have 5,000 franchisees around the world” as well as thousands of suppliers, and “all come to Chicago,” he said, to stay in its hotels and eat in its restaurants.

McDonald’s recorded $112.5 billion in systemwide sales last year, up 20.6% from the previous year, according to the Franchise Times Top 500 for 2022, to be released on October 1st. It had 40,031 units in total, including 13,438 in the United States. See the 2021 ranking of the 400 Franchised Brands by Systemwide Sales here.

“We entered the West Loop in 2018, moving 2,000 employees from suburban Oak Brook to the old downtown meatpacking district,” and it’s safe to say the West Loop is booming, and we think we’ve been a big catalyst for that,” he said.

“McDonald’s economic contribution to the city of Chicago is $2 billion a year. What if McDonald’s wasn’t there? That would be $2 billion ‘leaving the city’ overnight. Can you imagine Chicago without McDonald’s I can’t face the facts, and the facts haven’t been particularly kind to the city of Chicago lately. is in Chicago this year than last year.

“Double Up” with Speedee Labs

He said others sense Chicago’s “vulnerability.” “I’ve heard from mayors and governors who have pleaded with me to have McDonald’s move our headquarters to their city and state.” But he added, “McDonald’s double. We’re going to be there,” as he announced the new Speedee Labs.

The name is a tribute to McDonald’s Speedee service system, introduced in 1948, which “revolutionized the way a restaurant operates,” the company said in a press release. It will open in 2023 and move 120 jobs downtown. “SpeeDee Labs is where we envision the future of McDonald’s, and it will happen right here in Chicago,” Kempczinski said.

McDonald’s opened its Innovation Center in Romeoville in 2001, where people “trained” to use equipment and processes to improve speed. In 2020, the company unveiled its newly renovated lab there, designed by San Francisco-based interior design firm Studio O+A, the same firm that designed the interior of its 250-square-foot downtown headquarters. millions of dollars.

The center is where the fast food giant “puts experimental food preparation equipment through its paces”, according to Metropolis magazine. “More than superficial nods to company tradition, these movements emphasize the humble mechanical innovations that have enabled McDonald’s global growth.”

The Innovation Center’s goal is “not to develop new menu items, but rather to test new equipment and workflow procedures,” Metropolis said.


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