Leaders at McDonald’s Corp. indicated during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call that the intense pace of product introductions that “overcomplicated” its U.S. restaurants in 2013 would give way to greater focus on operational execution and more engaging marketing this year.

While the Oak Brook, Ill.-based company still managed to grow its net income 2.4 percent to $5.59 billion for fiscal 2013, its earnings and global same-store sales in the Dec. 31-ended fourth quarter essentially were flat. A higher average check somewhat offset negative traffic in McDonald’s three major operating divisions, including the United States, where fourth-quarter comparable sales fell 1.4 percent.

In order to turn those domestic sales around in 2014, McDonald’s will focus heavily on peak-hour execution, particularly with a major push to replace its back-of-the-house setup with the new “High Density Kitchen” suite of equipment systemwide by May or June, chief operating officer Tim Fenton said.

He told investors that McDonald’s Corp. stumbled in the United States last year “with too many new products, too fast,” which added to operational complexity at the restaurants, a common complaint among the brand’s franchisees.

“We overcomplicated the restaurants,” Fenton said. “If you remember, we introduced McWraps, Egg White Delight, topped Quarter Pounders and really didn’t give the restaurants an opportunity to breathe. We’ve instituted a gatekeeper really with the intent of doing fewer products, but better execution.”

Part of the High Density Kitchen package, an enhanced prep table with a refrigerated rail capable of holding new ingredients, is meant to improve efficiency by cutting down on employee movement in the back of the house and to better allow customization after guests order sandwiches at the register, he said.

But while McDonald’s would look to position its crew members better in the restaurant, the chain also would add labor hours this year to manage its still-expansive menu, he added.

“We have to have the additional staffing required for some of the complexity we have,” Fenton said. “That was one of the stumblings we had last year with all the new products we brought in all at the same time or within close proximity to each other.”