090210 McDonald's Posts Rare Good Earnings In Japan

February 4, 2009

Tokyo (The Economic Times) -- As Japanese companies post a slew of dismal earnings, one company stood out Wednesday -- the local unit of US hamburger giant McDonald's, which is wooing cost-conscious customers.

McDonald's Holdings Co. Japan said it posted record sales of 406.3 bn yen (4.5 bn dollars) in the 2008 calendar year, a rise of 2.9 percent from 2007, despite a recession in the country.

Net profit soared 58.5 percent to 12.4 bn yen. The sharp rise was largely due to a settlement of a lawsuit over a joint business with the Japanese branch of Toys 'R' Us.

McDonald's expected net profit to rise another 1.7 percent to 12.6 bn yen in the current year. But it forecast an 11.3 percent dip in sales to 355 billion yen.

McDonald's said it was seeing the fruits of a campaign launched in 2004 that included the launch of a 100-yen (one-dollar) menu, which had initially hurt the bottom line but succeeded in encouraging regular custom.

"While it managed to win support from more customers through the value strategy, the company will make further efforts to build sales and profits by executing measures faster and better," a statement said.

The fast food chain is also keeping more restaurants open around the clock to compete with Japan's ubiquitous convenience stores. More than 1,600 McDonald's outlets in Japan are now open 24 hours, the company said.

McDonald's was the pioneering fast food chain in Japan, opening its first restaurant in Tokyo's glitzy Ginza district in 1971.