According to The Australian Financial Review, McDonald's Japan took a series of hits starting in 2014 that threatened to crack its Golden Arches but chief executive officer Sarah Casanova decided to counterpunch. Casanova visited all of the country's 47 prefectures to assure diners - especially mothers - that her company was implementing safeguards, and to ask them what they wanted from McDonald's.
"It made us go out and listen to customers," Casanova, 52, said of the crisis. "We were not doing a great job of giving them what they wanted."
Armed with their feedback, Casanova revamped the menu to add local flavours like the pork-and-ginger "Yakki Burger" and quirky headline-grabbing items like chocolate-covered fries. She gave many outlets a facelift and forged a partnership featuring Pokemon characters.
She cut off the troubled Chinese chicken supplier and introduced measures so parents could trace where their children's meals were coming from.
Since then, the shine has returned to the arches. McDonald's Japan stock closed at a record high on September 11 as part of a 64 per cent increase this year. Same-store sales climbed for the 21st consecutive month in August, and the company raised its full-year profit outlook twice.
"They focused on the foundations - renewing stores, changing its menu and listening to the voices of moms," said Seiichiro Samejima, a Tokyo-based analyst at Ichiyoshi Research Institute. "It wasn't a sudden turnaround, but something done step by step."
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