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McDonald’s eyes greater restaurant expansion in Asia

McDonald's has set its sights on Asia, with the hope of adding more than 1,500 new restaurants in China, Hong Kong and South Korea within the next five years, the popular fast food chain announced Thursday.

The company already has more than 2,800 of their restaurants located in the three markets put together — the majority of which are company-owned — however, the U.S. firm hopes the additional outlets will help drive McDonald's future growth initiatives.

The global food retailer has over 36,000 locations in more than 100 countries worldwide. In its largest market, the U.S., McDonald's has over 14,000 restaurants and generates some 32 percent of its global revenue, according to its website.

The Asian market signifies a "significant area of opportunity" for McDonald's, the CEO and president, Steve Easterbrook, said in a statement, adding that the region would help "blend (McDonald's) global quality standards with local insights and expertise from partners who share (McDonald's') vision and values."

"This will allow McDonald's to accelerate our growth and scale faster across diverse markets placing us closer to our customers and the communities we serve," said Easterbrook.

"We're in the midst of transforming our business and taking a strategic and thoughtful approach to enhance our ability to grow around the world."

Guang Niu | Getty Images AsiaPac | Getty Images

The company also announced that it was looking out for strategic partners in places such as Japan and Taiwan, to develop the company's competitiveness in these markets, and cater to more local traditions.

"Asia still offers by far the largest long-term growth opportunity in global foodservice. Even China's current growth rates are very attractive relative to other markets, so it makes sense for every major chained operator to keep them as a focus," Elizabeth Friend, strategy analyst for consumer foodservice at Euromonitor International, told CNBC via email.

"In terms of tailoring their strategy, McDonald's will need to focus on winning back public support, offering a consistent, high-quality experience and tailoring their offer to local flavours while preserving some of the Western appeal that gained them popularity in the first place. It's a difficult balance," Friend added.

Under the helm of new CEO Easterbrook, who took the position in March 2015, McDonald's is undertaking its own turnaround plan.

Last November, Easterbrook said the company was dedicated to creating a "global, well-diversified geographic footprint," after the firm admitted in a conference call last summer that results had remained "disappointing" and was looking to improve customer satisfaction with new strategies.

Since then, McDonald's has reported an improvement in earnings, with its latest report in January coming in better-than-expected, with sales at U.S. restaurants — open at least 13 months — rising 5.7 percent, over double the average estimate of 2.7 percent.

By CNBC's Alexandra Gibbs, follow her @AlexGibbsy and @CNBCi