HONG KONG (REUTERS) - McDonald's said on Thursday (March 31) it planned to add more than 1,500 restaurants in China, Hong Kong and South Korea over the next five years as it focuses on high-growth markets to boost sales.
The company also said it was looking for franchisee partners in those markets, where it already has more than 2,800 restaurants, most of them company-owned.
China, Hong Kong and South Korea, along with a few other high-growth markets such as Russia, accounted for nearly a quarter of McDonald's total sales in 2015.
McDonald's has a long-term plan to franchise 95 per cent of its restaurants worldwide. More than 80 per cent of its 36,000-plus restaurants are now operated by franchisees.
The company converted about 470 company-owned restaurants to franchises last year.
McDonald's said it was seeking partners who would "enable localised decisions on growth initiatives" in China, Hong Kong and South Korea. In China particularly, the company is facing increasing competition from cheaper local rivals.
McDonald's shares were little changed at US$125.85 in premarket trading. The stock has risen about 29 per cent in the last 12 months, outperforming the 18 per cent rise in the S&P 500 restaurants Sub index.