Embattled McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson Steps Down after Difficult Year

Steve Easterbrook will replace Thompson on March 1 and fill his seat on the board of directors

After a difficult year, McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson will leave his post as the company looks to new leadership to save the struggling burger giant.  

After a year of dismal sales and a number of food safety scandals, McDonald’s president and CEO Don Thompson will step down and relinquish his seat on the board of directors, the company announced in a statement on Wednesday, January 28.

On the same day, headquarters began a massive restructuring program in which more than 100 corporate employees were laid off, with potentially more to come. Thompson will be replaced by the company’s chief branding officer, Steve Easterbrook, effective March 1.

Just days ago, the company posted one of its worst sales performances in at least a decade. In the last year, the company has also faced a steep decline in customer loyalty, heavy competition from other fast-casual companies, and a number of supply chain problems that hurt its image.

In recent months, the company has scrambled to adapt to changing consumer interests, including a build-your-own-burger component available in select markets, the quiet opening of a minimally branded McCafé in Australia, and calling on the services of a former MythBuster to better connect with consumers.

A chart from Nation’s Restaurant News better illustrates McDonald’s declining sales performance over the last decade.


“It's tough to say goodbye to the McFamily, but there is a time and season for everything,” Thompson announced in a statement. “I am truly confident, as I pass the reins over to Steve, that he will continue to move our business and brand forward.”