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McDonald’s says 2,500 new jobs a lifeline for young unemployed

McDonald’s has been a rare recession winner as Britons flock to its restaurants to save money at mealtimes

McDonald’s said that new outlets as well as a shift to 24-hour opening would create 2,500 jobs and provide a lifeline to young job hunters.

Jill McDonald, chief executive of McDonald’s UK, said it planned to open up to 15 new restaurants in 2012 and would also recruit more staff to cover night shifts. More than 1 million 16- to 24-year-olds are unemployed according to official figures and she said more than half the new positions would go to under 25s.

McDonald’s has been one of the few recession winners as Britons flock to its restaurants to save money at mealtimes. Its answer to the squeeze on consumer spending has been a 99p “Saver” menu as well as budget lattes for cost conscious office workers. Underlying sales jumped more than 10% in the last three months of 2011, McDonald said.

The expansion was welcomed by Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, who toured the company’s London training centre. He said McDonald’s was helping young people “with little or no experience in the world of work” to develop their skills and confidence: “For a significant number of these young people, their jobs at McDonald’s are the first step in their careers.”

Some economists question the quality of jobs being created in service industries, while those in government-sponsored sectors such as manufacturing move overseas, but McDonald countered: “These are good jobs … what is worrying is the prejudice that still exists around service sector jobs.” Half of McDonald’s current board started their careers serving customers in their restaurants, she added.

The expansion was unveiled as the world’s largest restaurant chain reported a strong set of financial results for 2011 with profits up 11% to .5bn on record sales of bn (£17.3bn). The US-listed company said it had enjoyed its best underlying sales performance in its home market since 2006

In the fourth-quarter group underlying sales increased 7.5% with its European division serving up growth of 7.3%. Jim Skinner, McDonald’s chief executive, said it had increased both its profit margins and market share during the year and would invest .9bn in 2012. Half of that sum would be spent on opening 1,300 restaurants, he added, with the remainder ploughed into refurbishing some 2,400 of its 33,000 restaurants.

Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown, said the company had outperformed its rivals both during and since the recession with its shares up more than 30% over the last year: “McDonald’s remains a favourite of customers and investors alike, with the general market view of the shares as a strong buy looking unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.” © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds