McDonald’s (MCD) is moving back to Chicago after decades away in an effort to attract the young talent it needs to keep its turnaround on track.
The world’s largest restaurant chain said on Monday its headquarters would relocate to the city’s West Loop neighborhood in the building that once housed Oprah Winfrey’s former Harpo Studios by the spring of 2018. McDonald’s was headquartered in Chicago from 1955 to 1971 before moving to suburban Oak Brook, Ill.
McDonald’s has been working on a promising turnaround, facilitated by moves such as bringing back all-day breakfast, overhauling its mobile app, and capitalizing on trends such as shifting to cage-free eggs. CEO Steve Easterbrook, brought in at the start of 2015 to halt the company’s decline, has repeatedly said his goal is to turn McDonald’s into a “modern, progressive burger company.”
To maintain its nascent momentum, the chain is looking to recruit top young talent, people typically more interested in working in city centers than suburban office parks.
“Moving our headquarters to Chicago is another significant step in our journey to build a better McDonald’s,” Easterbrook said in a statement. “This world-class environment will continue to drive business momentum by getting us even closer to customers, encouraging innovation and ensuring great talent is excited about where they work.”
Two weeks ago, at McDonald’s annual meeting, Easterbrook told shareholders “If you want a world-class team, you’ve got to provide a world-class environment,” according to the Chicago Tribune.
McDonald’s has some 2,000 corporate employees at its current headquarters. In addition to its home office, the new headquarters will also house McDonald’s training center, Hamburger University.
In April, McDonald’s reported U.S. comparable sales (business at restaurants open at least 13 months) rose 5.4% in the first three-month period of the year, their third straight quarterly increase after what had been two years of declines. Globally, comparable sales rose 6.2% during the quarter.
On Easterbrook’s watch, McDonald’s has sought to simplify its menu, shedding items that were either unpopular or slowed down the process in the kitchen. Easterbrook introduced All-Day Breakfast in the U.S. in October, finally yielding to what McDonald’s loyalists had been clamoring for for years. McDonald’s also introduced McPick 2 late last year, where customers can pay $2 for two items.