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Franchise Europe Top 500 - McDonald's



McDonald’s began as a hamburger restaurant operated by brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald in California. Businessman Ray Kroc visited their restaurant in 1954 and was impressed by their efficient production methods. They offered a small menu, which allowed them to focus on quality and fast service. Kroc became their franchise agent in 1955, and founded McDonald’s System, Inc., which later became the McDonald’s Corporation. Kroc bought the McDonald brothers’ equity and oversaw its worldwide expansion, maintaining the restaurant's consistently high quality products, uniform production and quick service.

McDonald’s now operates in 119 countries worldwide. The chain’s menu is still based on variations of burgers, fries, soft drinks and milkshakes, but they have also introduced new items such as salads, fish and fruit to cater for changing customer tastes and lifestyles.

The first international McDonald’s restaurants opened in Canada and Puerto Rico in 1967. The chain expanded to Europe in 1971, opening in Zaandam, the Netherlands. There are currently over 6,000 McDonald’s franchise units operating across Europe in 38 countries.

Franchise System

Ray Kroc developed a unique franchise system. He promoted the famous slogan ‘in business for yourself, but not by yourself’ and persuaded both suppliers and franchisees that they weren’t working for McDonald’s, they were working with McDonald’s. The company’s success relied on all three working together. Eighty percent of McDonald’s restaurants worldwide are owned and operated by franchisees.

McDonald’s consistently ranks amongst the top franchisors in the world. Their franchisees are offered extensive training in all aspects of running the business, a training programme that the company boasts is ‘the best in the industry’. This includes franchisees and management attending Hamburger University. Field Operations and Franchising staff work closely with franchisees from the start of their training.

Franchisees are supported at all stages of their business, with training and rewards, award-winning advertising, the ability to contribute ideas to McDonald’s and human resources.

Franchise Numbers

Franchise Units Total: 36,500

Franchise Units in Europe:​ >6,000

Established in USA:​ 1955

Established in Europe: 1971

Financial Information

Required investment: New Restaurant = 40% of total cost; Existing Restaurant = 25% of total cost

Capital Required: €445,000

Upfront fee: €40,100

Corporate Social Responsibility

The McDonald’s chain makes a continuous effort to reduce, reuse and recycle in the restaurants. They recycle used cooking oil as biodiesel to fuel more than 50% of their delivery trucks, and 89% of their restaurants recycle cardboard boxes. Over 85% of their packaging is made from renewable resources. The amount of packaging used for an ‘average meal’ of a burger, fries and drink has been reduced by 46% since 1970. They also use low energy LED bulbs and energy-saving equipment. The company makes an effort to source its ingredients from local agriculture and farmers.

Ronald McDonald House Charities

The first Ronald McDonald House opened in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1974. The charity helps the families of sick children in whatever way they can, such as providing a place to stay near a hospitalised child, meals and laundry facilities. More than $200 million has been collected through RMHC Donation Boxes, helping to fund grants for non profit children's needs organisations and scholarships for students. Ronald McDonald houses can be found in 63 countries and regions around the world.


Total Units:
Food: Fast Food
Year established:
Year franchising:
United States of America
Total Countries:
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