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History

With the chain's first store opening at Yagoona, Sydney in December 1971, McDonald's Australia has grown rapidly, becoming the dominant quick service restaurant in Australia and one of the country's largest employers.

Expansion was rapid, with the company opening it's first franchise store in the country in 1972. However, success was not as quick, with the operation being weighted down with inefficient products aimed to suit the Australian market, such as fish and chips. Realizing the mistake, the menu was quickly adjusted to the traditional combination of burgers and fries and sales began to grow.

McDonald's Australia was quick to expand into other markets, and within 6 years there were stores in Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT. Aimed to continue driving sales forwards, the Australian operation released some popular US items onto the menu, such as Chicken McNuggets and Happy Meals.

The menu expansion continued in 1987 with the release of the breakfast menu on the market, becoming the only QSR in Australia to do so. While original success was not immediate, volumes continued to grow and now contributes extensively to the many store's operating profit.

McDonald's Australia also developed the McCafe concept, with the first store opening in 1994. The success of the format has not only caused it to spread to many stores on the domestic market, but also internationally.

The business was one of the first QSR franchises in Australia to recognize the threat changing eating habits would have on sales on their business, introducing the Salad's Plus (later renamed to Lighter Choices) range of healthier options, including salads, yogurts and lean chicken options.

McDonald's Australia would follow up the success of the line with the introduction of Deli Choices in 2004 - which extended the stance of the company on consumer health with a line of crusty rolls filled with deli quality ingredients cooked as you waited. 2004 also saw the introduction of Espresso Pronto in many stores, making fast, high quality coffee available in drive thru.

Throughout it's existence the company has faced competition from many rivals, which was dramatically illustrated in 2005 when Hungry Jacks (essentially Burger King) introduced a breakfast menu option very similar to the options available from McDonald's. This move has not had a significant effect on the business, with volumes not being affected by this increased competition.

The company has continued to experiment with its menu options, introducing Warm Salads in 2006 which while not an immediate success, has gained a following in some markets. In 2007 9 menu options became Heart Tick approved, indicating the steps that the business had taken to improve the nutritional value of its products. Today, McDonald's Australia is still the dominant quick service restaurant in Australia with almost 50% of the market.

Operations

As is the case in the United States approximately 75% of stores in Australia are owned by licensees, the remainder being operated by McOpCo (McDonald's Operating Company). Typically, most stores located in the Central Business District of major cities will belong to McOpCo, with the suburbs being primarily operated by the franchise community.

Critisims and Controversy

Like any large, multinational company, McDonald's Australia has faced a considerable amount of notoriety throughout its history. A popular trend is to claim that the business substitutes products for inferior quality components to save costs. Some of these myths (all which are false) are:

  • The beef patties are not 100% Australian beef
  • Meat products are full of additives and preservatives.
  • Thick-shakes and sundaes are made with pig fat and not real milk
  • Apple pies are made of chokos and not apples
  • Filet-O-Fish contain no fish
  • The eggs used are powdered
  • Vegetables used are frozen to maintain shelf life

The company has also faced criticism due to its labour practices, with many claiming that McDonald's Australia is breaking federal laws to keep unions out. While in the 1980s there was a substantial push by some unions to organize some stores these steps where unsuccessful due to lack of employee interest.

The release of Super Size Me in movie theaters put strain on the company, with many beginning to claim that McDonald's and other QSR businesses were responsible for the obesity problem within Australia. This movement continues to this day, despite the company's efforts to introduce healthier options. At the time, McDonald's Australia purchased ad time before the movie commenced, a move that did more harm than good.

In 2005 the company was also shaken by claims that it was gradually moving its food purchasing from Australian products to cheaper overseas alternatives. This belief received a public boost by Today Tonight running a story regarding the issue. The story was later found to be largely false, with only fry production being moved to New Zealand to increase quality throughout the system.

Managing Directors

  • Don Wilson
  • Peter Ritchie
  • Charlie Bell
  • Guy Russo
  • Peter Bush

Current Menu Items

Regular Menu

Lighter Choices

  • Lean Beef Burger
  • Berry Nice Crunch
  • Garden Salad

Deli Rolls

  • Chicken Caesar
  • Turkey and Cranberry
  • Roast Beef and BBQ Sauce
  • Tandori Chicken
  • Thai Chicken

Warm Salads

  • Crispy Cut Salad
  • Herb Fusion

Breakfast Menu

  • Bacon and Egg McMuffin
  • Sausage and Egg McMuffin
  • Sausage McMuffin
  • Hotcakes
  • Apple and Banana Toast
  • Bacon and Egg Roll
  • Breakfast Deluxe Roll

Drinks

Deserts

  • Sundaes
  • Ice Cream Cones
  • McFlurries - Oreo, Crunchie and M&M (No butterfingers)
  • Apple Pie

References

Myself - What? No liquor or smokes?

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