Friday, June 26, 2009

McDonald's French jujitsu

By 2007, France had become the second-most profitable market in the world for McDonald's, surpassed only by the land that gave the world fast food. ...

The principal architect (or culprit, depending on your point of view) was Denis Hennequin, a forty-nine-year-old Parisian. ...

That same year, Hennequin rolled another, bigger grenade under [McDonald's protester] Bové's tractor by opening the McDonald's booth at the Salon de l'Agriculture. ... McDonald's France was sourcing 75 percent of its ingredients domestically, and he felt it was imperative from a PR standpoint to force French farmers, hypocritically applauding Bové, to publicly acknowledge the large volume of business that they were doing with McDo. ...

McDonald's appealed to budget-conscious students, of course, but with France's high unemployment and sluggish economy, it attracted people of all ages. Pensioners, for instance, were among the chain's most loyal clients. The food at McDonald's was cheap, and it was made cheaper still because its restaurants were officially designated as takeout joints. The value-added tax on meals at such establishments was just 5.5 percent, versus the 19.6 percent levied at "gastronomic" restaurants.
--Mike Steinberger, Slate, on how the French enabled McDonald's success in France

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