Easterbook has been forced to step down after a consensual relationship with an employee, which violates company policy, and will be replaced by Chris Kempczinski, the president of McDonald’s USA and a marketer.

McDonald's mobile orderingMcDonald’s has fired its chief executive Steve Easterbrook after he had a relationship with an employee against company rules.

The fast food giant said former president and CEO Steve Easterbrook demonstrated poor judgment when he had a consensual relationship with an employee.

In an email to workers, Easterbrook acknowledged the relationship and said it was a mistake. “Given the values of the company, I agree with the board that it is time for me to move on,” he explained.

McDonald’s board voted on Easterbrook’s departure on Friday after a review and has named Chris Kempczinski, who recently served as president of McDonald’s USA, as its new president and CEO. Easterbrook has also stepped down as McDonald’s president and member of the board.

Like Easterbrook, McDonald’s new CEO is a marketer having started his career in brand management at Procter & Gamble before joining the Boston Consulting Group as a management consultant focused on consumer products and pharmaceuticals.

In 2000, he joined PepsiCo in its corporate strategy and development business before taking on the role of vice-president of marketing for its non-carbonated beverages unit in North America. Prior to joining McDonald’s in 2015, he worked at Kraft Foods as executive vice-president of growth initiatives and president of Kraft International.

On his new role, Kempczinski says: “I’m thrilled to be leading this incredible company. As one of the world’s leading brands, McDonald’s makes a difference in the lives of people every day. We have a responsibility not only to serve great food, but to make it responsibly and to enrich the communities in which we operate. I am energised by this challenge and look forward to guiding McDonald’s continued success.”

McDonald’s turns to tech to build the future of fast food

Easterbrook was born in the UK and joined McDonald’s in 1993. He rose through the ranks to lead the British business in 2006, then became president of its northern European operation, overseeing 1,800 restaurants.

He left the company in 2011 to become chief executive of Pizza Express and later Wagamama. However, in June 2013 Easterbrook rejoined McDonald’s as global chief brand officer. He became chief executive in 2015.

Under his leadership, McDonald’s has been focusing on a turnaround strategy in the US in particular where sales have stagnated. Easterbrook has made it his mission to prioritise tech and the customer experience in order to drive McDonald’s relevancy as part of his Velocity Growth Plan created in 2017.

He is widely credited with revitalising its menus and restaurants, particularly in European markets where sales have continued to grow.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, his successor Kempczinski said: “There isn’t going to be some radical, strategic shift. The plan is working.”

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