"The Golden Arches are going upscale in Europe - and if you haven't seen a refurbished McDonald's yet, chances are you will see one by the end of this year. Aiming to create a more relaxed, restaurantlike [sic] experience in a sophisticated atmosphere, McDonald's is replacing bolted-down, plastic, yellow and white 'furniture' with lime-green designer chairs and dark leather upholstery. It is the restaurant chain's biggest revamp in more than 20 years, and, together with its franchisees, it plans to spend more than €600 million, or $806.6 million, remodeling 1,280 of its European restaurants by the end of this year," writes the International Herald Tribune:
Meanwhile, "some analysts say the new design works better in Europe than in the United States, where a majority of McDonald's customers prefer to eat in their cars or take their food home."
So far, the changes appear to be paying off. Sales in Europe are ahead of those in the United States. In the first half of this year, combined sales at Europe's 6,400 restaurants rose 15 percent to $4.1 billion, compared to a 6 percent increase in America, where McDonald's has 13,800 restaurants and sales were $3.9 billion. [...] The chain now serves over 10 million customers a day in Europe, which contributes 36 percent to the company's operating income, making it the chain's second most profitable region after the United States. [...]
The original impetus for the makeover was a European sales slump in the late 1990s, brought on by concerns about obesity and European annoyance at unappealing décor and grumpy McDonald's staff. But the ideas for how to change came from Denis Hennequin, president of McDonald's Europe, the first non-American in that role (see related article) [...] A separate food factory in Munich is trying to come up with new menus for the different tastes in the 41 European countries, including Russia, in which McDonald's operates - a continuation of a process started in the 1980s, when the company started to offer beer in its German restaurants. In England, McDonald's has started to serve porridge for breakfast; in Portugal it offers soup; and in France, 'cheese saga' - burgers with French cheeses.