McDonald’s USA has debuted its first premium limited-time offer of the year, the Bacon Clubhouse Sandwich, after reporting that its domestic system has not yet fully recovered to positive results after struggling through a difficult winter.
Announcement of the rollout came after McDonald’s Corp. reported a 0.3-percent decline in global same-store sales in February, which included a 1.4-percent decrease in domestic same-store sales.
Officials cited “challenging industry dynamics and severe winter weather” for the result, the fourth consecutive month of negative comparable sales in the United States but a sequential improvement from same-store sales declines of 3.8 percent in December 2013 and 3.3 percent in January 2014.
Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald’s will look to build momentum in the United States with this week’s launch of the Bacon Clubhouse Sandwich, the chain’s first promotion on the premium end of its menu in 2014.
The sandwich can be built with either a quarter-pound beef patty or a piece of crispy or grilled chicken. The item then features a new “artisan” roll, applewood-smoked bacon, caramelized grilled onions, white Cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomato. The Bacon Clubhouse is also the first sandwich other than the Big Mac to use Big Mac Sauce.
Since the November launch of the Dollar Menu & More in the United States, McDonald’s has put most of its marketing focus around value initiatives like that new menu. In February, the chain executed its Olympic sponsorship, promoted the McCafé Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frappé and reprised its Mighty Wings limited-time offer from the end of 2013 with a reduced price of around $3 for an order of five.
Brand officials have identified productivity moves like the systemwide rollout of “High Density Kitchen” equipment as key initiatives for the brand this year. Yet before the completion of that effort, unit-level profitability in the first quarter would be constrained as a result of flat revenue through the first two months of the year, chief financial officer Pete Bensen said.
“We are diligently focused on strengthening our performance,” Bensen said in a statement, “however, our relatively flat year-to-date global comparable sales will pressure margins in the first quarter. Looking ahead, we believe that we are taking the right actions to more clearly align with our customers’ needs and build momentum to drive long-term profitable growth.”
For the fifth consecutive month, the company’s European division reported positive same-store sales, registering a 0.6-percent gain. Once again, soft sales in Germany offset the relative outperformance of the segments other three major markets: France, Russia and the United Kingdom.
Same-store sales in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa, or APMEA, division fell 2.6 percent in February, primarily due to weakness in Japan and, to a lesser extent, negative sales in Australia and a negative calendar shift related to the timing of Chinese New Year. Analyst David Tarantino of Robert W. Baird & Co. estimated in a research note that Japan’s comparable sales fell 8.7 percent during February, just one month after a 3.4-percent gain in that country greatly contributed to APMEA’s 5.4-percent increase in January same-store sales.
The company said it would pursue menu initiatives centered on variety, convenience and affordability to drive results in the APMEA region.
McDonald’s operates or franchises more than 35,000 quick-service restaurants in more than 100 countries, including more than 14,000 locations in the United States.