Harada quits helm of McDonald’s

Ex-president to stay on as chairman of Japan unit

JIJI, Kyodo

said Tuesday that McDonald’s Co. (Japan) Ltd. President Eiko Harada has stepped down, with the post being taken over the same day by Sarah Casanova from the global hamburger chain’s Canadian unit.

Harada remains as chairman of McDonald’s Co. (Japan), the group’s Japanese operating unit, and will continue to manage the group in Japan as chairman and president of the holding company.

He said the reshuffle is aimed at “reinforcing management.”

“An important mission for me is to create my successor,” Harada said.

He stressed that Casanova, who served as an executive of McDonald’s Co. (Japan) and was in charge of the Malaysian and Singaporean markets before taking the new post in Japan, “has ample knowledge of the Japanese market and global business experience.”

After serving as president of the Japanese unit of Apple Computer Inc., which later became Apple Inc., Harada became vice chairman of McDonald’s Co. (Japan) in February 2004.

He was then promoted to the top position of both McDonald’s Co. (Japan) and the holding company. He contributed to raising the profitability of the group, which posted an operating profit rise for six straight years from 2006 through such measures as the launch of ¥100 hamburgers.

However, the group suffered falls in sales and profits in the year to December 2012, hit by intensifying price competition and the weakness of the restaurant industry in Japan amid an economic slowdown.

Despite efforts to improve earnings, such as raising the prices of some products, the group’s January-June 2013 operating profit fell over 40 percent from a year earlier.

The group is expected to accelerate efforts to rebuild its business under the initiative of the U.S. headquarters. It faces tough going as prices of commodities are rising due to a weaker yen and a sales tax hike looming next April.