McDonald's Corp. laid the foundation to perk up its beverage and breakfast offerings Tuesday with plans to add upscale coffee drinks, sweetened iced tea, smoothies, breakfast burritos and chicken biscuit sandwiches to its U.S. restaurants in the coming weeks.
In a meeting with analysts Tuesday, Oak Brook-based McDonald's also
• • Appointed Peter J. Bensen chief financial officer starting Jan. 1. Bensen, senior vice president and corporate controller, replaces Matthew Paull, who announced his retirement this year.
• • Said it plans to transfer 1,000 to 1,500 restaurants to franchisees in the next few years.
The addition of espresso coffee drinks, which are being tested in more than 800 stores, will begin next year and will give McDonald's an important foothold into the lucrative $12 billion specialty beverage market.
The rollout probably will last through 2009, officials announced Tuesday.
Following the success of its breakfast menu and drip-coffee, observers have expected the world's largest fast-food company to dive into the fast-growing coffee business as a way to attract new customers to the chain.
McDonald's also plans to add sweet tea, frappes, smoothies and bottled beverages to stores.
''We call our iced tea business money in a cup,'' Karen King, eastern U.S. division chief, told analysts at McDonald's headquarters in Oak Brook. She didn't disclose profit margins for beverages.
McDonald's increased U.S. coffee sales by 39 percent in the first nine months of 2007 after introducing a stronger blend in 2006. It has added cappuccinos and lattes to two-thirds of its 13,800 U.S. restaurants to tap growth in the $60 billion-a-year beverage market.