McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner to Retire

President-COO Don Thompson to Take the Helm in July

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After 41 years with the world's largest fast-food chain by sales, McDonald's Vice Chairman-CEO Jim Skinner will retire at the end of June. President-Chief Operating Officer Don Thompson will succeed Mr. Skinner as CEO on July 1.

Jim Skinner
Jim Skinner

"Jim's stellar leadership has driven unprecedented momentum at McDonald's," said Andy McKenna, chairman of McDonald's board, in a statement. "Jim has brought to the table exceptional knowledge of McDonald's restaurant operations and a keen sense of business know-how. ... As we look to the future, the board has every confidence that Don's strategic leadership and global business insight make him the ideal CEO. His track record of performance as president and COO of McDonald's Corp.and president of McDonald's USA speak to his qualifications to further drive the company's momentum."

Mr. Skinner, 67, became CEO in 2004 after then-CEO Charlie Bell, who had cancer, resigned. He later lost his battle with the disease. Mr. Skinner, along with Mr. Bell and the late Jim Cantalupo, had been one of the architects of McDonald's "Plan to Win" turnaround effort, which has been the company's strategy since its inception in 2003. Former global CMO Larry Light, the brains behind "I'm lovin' it," oversaw the marketing for the turnaround.

"Doing what's right for our customers and our business has driven my passion as CEO of McDonald's," Mr. Skinner said in a statement. "I'm honored to have served and earned the trust of the board, our shareholders, franchisees, suppliers, and the men and women of this great company. Don Thompson is well prepared for the CEO role, and under his leadership, our company will continue to meet the needs of our 68 million customers around the world every day."

Mr. Thompson, who joined McDonald's in 1990, became the chain's COO in January 2010. Before that , he served as president of McDonald's USA.

"Our management team is strong and will remain focused on the Plan to Win and on our three global priorities -- optimizing the menu, modernizing the customer experience and broadening our accessibility to even more customers," Mr. Thompson said in the statement. "Our franchisees, suppliers and employees are committed to ensuring that McDonald's is our customers' favorite way and place to eat and drink."

McDonald's, by far the largest advertiser in the U.S. in the restaurant space, spent $963 million on measured media in 2011, according to Kantar, up 8.6% from 2010. The chain earlier this month launched a new campaign for its Happy Meals, focusing on nutrition.

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