McDonald’s Gasses Up for Growth

OAK BROOK, ILL. – McDonald’s Corp. has begun soliciting partnerships with gasoline station and convenience-store operators in a reversal of its longstanding strategic aversion to such alliances.
The fast-food giant for the first time has installed a corporate director of petroleum alliances, Tom Morrison, and is distributing a brochure outlining optional McDonald’s building configurations that can fit with or within other companies’ operations. These range from what the brochure calls the ‘McDonald’s Classic,’ offering drive-through and walk-up service to the limited space and menu ‘McDonald’s Kiosk.’
‘We are in the early stages of looking at this concept (of teaming with petroleum and convenience chains),’ said McDonald’s spokeswoman Ann Connelley, who added that all partnership decisions would be made regionally, not corporately. ‘It’s part of our continuing interest in nontraditional sites. We have done some tests, but are just beginning to look at this area.’
Those tests include McDonald’s stores partnered with a Texaco station in Arkansas, a Mobil station in Massachusetts and two with Shell and one with Amoco in Florida. Additionally, a downsized McDonald’s is being tested within an Amoco minimart in Indianapolis.
Rapidly running out of street-corner sites, McDonald’s has restaurants in a variety of nontraditional sites, including museums, hospitals and schools, as well as a few test units in Wal-Mart stores. It also has tollway units, but not in partnership with gas stations.
McDonald’s also needs to catch up to rival PepsiCo, which has been more flexible in site criteria for its Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut. Last year PepsiCo bought a controlling stake in Carts of Colorado, a major manufacturer of mobile-merchandising equipment that had supplied several chains, including McDonald’s. PepsiCo has leveraged its lock on Carts to expand its use of fast-food kiosks. In June PepsiCo landed an exclusive on food and drink kiosks in the Moscow Metro that partners Coca-Cola and McDonald’s had coveted.
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