McDonald’s to invest $69 million in Arkansas to modernize stores

by Michael Tilley (mtilley@talkbusiness.net) 858 views 

McDonald’s on Tuesday (Aug. 14) announced plans to invest $69 million in 100 of the more than 170 stores in Arkansas by 2019. The work is part of a $6 billion plan to modernize many U.S. McDonald’s restaurants by 2020.

Work on the Arkansas stores is set to begin this year. David Stokes, a Cabot-based franchisee, said the work will use local professional services and help the state’s construction industry.

“This is an exciting time for McDonald’s and we’re proud to be investing nearly $69 Million to provide a new experience, look and feel for guests at 100 McDonald’s locations across Arkansas,” said Stokes, who operates restaurants in Bald Knob, Beebe, Cabot, El Paso, Greenbrier, Searcy, and Vilonia. “We are also pleased that our modernization supports local architecture, engineering and construction jobs across the great state of Arkansas.”

According to the statement on the investment from Little Rock-based Ghidotti Communications, the restaurant renovations will include the following:
• Modernized dining rooms with globally and locally inspired décor, new furniture and refreshed exterior design;
• Digital self-order kiosks;
• Remodeled counters allow for new table service that offers guests the opportunity to relax while their food is being made;
• Bright and easy to read digital menu boards inside and at the drive through;
• New designated parking spots for curbside pick-up through mobile order and pay; and
• Expanded McCafé counters and larger display cases.

Ghidotti Account Executive Allyson Pittman Gattin told Talk Business & Politics that self-order kiosks would not result in job losses. She said each McDonald’s has about 60 employees, meaning there are around 10,200 McDonald’s employees in Arkansas.

“To answer your question about whether jobs will be lost due to the self-order kiosks, that will not happen. We will always have an important human element at our restaurants since that is what brings the service experience to life. In order to deliver a better experience, we anticipate that restaurants will train and hire new restaurant hospitality employees over the next few years,” Gattin noted.

Montine McNulty, executive director of the Arkansas Hospitality Association, said the renovation work will help the state’s economy beyond the tourism and travel industry.

“McDonald’s is an important local business and provider in the community,” McNulty, said in a statement. “McDonald’s is helping create and sustain local jobs not only in the restaurant industry but also in the communities they serve.”

The state’s travel and tourism industry had an estimated 114,900 jobs in June, down from 116,300 jobs in June 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Sector employment hit a record of 118,800 jobs in October 2017. The employment high in 2018 was 117,800 in March.

McDonald’s has more than 37,000 locations in over 100 countries, with more than 90% of restaurants worldwide owned and operated by independent local business men and women. For the first six months of 2018, the company posted net income of $2.871 billion, better than the $2.609 billion in the same period of 2017. Total revenue in the first six months was $10.492 billion, down 11% compared to the $11.725 billion in the same period of 2017.

McDonald’s shares (NYSE: MCD) closed Tuesday at $161.12, up 2.98. During the past 52 weeks the share price has ranged between $146.84 and $178.70.

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