'Tired' McDonald's decides on new look for UK stores

Global hamburger chain McDonald's startled City scribblers with the admission that its 1,300 UK restaurants are 'tired'.

Spokesman Denis Hennequin, boss of McDonald's Europe, also hinted that the company's one-third holding in sandwich chain Pret a Manger, may be sold.

McDonald's five year involvement with Pret 'has not worked and has been a distraction for existing core brands'.

The UK business is out of kilter with the rest of the world where McDonald's has been recovering lost ground since 2004. By way of contrast, sales at McDonald's UK stores - they are one of the global hamburger group's biggest markets - have been in 'negative territory' due to aggressive competition from sandwich sellers.

The company has announced it is to spend £200 million on refurbishing 1,000 McDonald's restaurants in Britain by 2011. It will also sell more sandwiches and salads. The business is also positioning itself in the healthier eating market by publishing more information about how much salt, calories, fat and carbohydrates are in its foods. It has already made a start by providing these facts on Big Mac wrappers.

Burger King to float on US stockmarket

More news from the hamburger market. Burger King, set up in 1954, is to float on the US stockmarket. The restaurant chain was bought by Goldman Sachs and private equity operators, Texas Pacific and Bain Capital, for $1.5 billion in 2002 from Diageo. The cash raised will go towards accelerating growth in an aggressive worldwide market worldwide and trying to take sales from US rivals, McDonald's and Wendy's.

Tesco to announce major overseas acquisition?

There is mild speculation in the stockmarket that Tesco is about to announce a major overseas purchase. Speculators reckon it could team up with US private equity group Kohlberg Kravis Roberts to bid for France's Carrefour or Dutch group Ahold.

Livestock auctioneering business increases losses.

As a result of being so long in the livestock auctioneering business John Swan & Sons finds itself with very valuable property holdings near the centre of Edinburgh generating massive amounts of cash when sold off as surplus to requirements. By way of contrast, cattle and sheep auctioneering activities have reported losses of £133,000 for the half year to 31 October 2005 against a loss £25,700 in the same six months in the previous year. Turnover fell from £763,000 to £744,000.

The good news is that the company has £2.1 million of cash surplus to requirements and is examining the best options open to it in which to invest the cash.

Stake building at Wm Morrison

Walter Scott & Partners, the Scottish fund manager, has built up a 3.3 per cent shareholding in Wm Morrison, the ailing supermarket chain which slipped on a major banana skin by taking over Safeway. Other big stakeholders include American fund manager Brandes with 14 per cent and chairman Sir Ken Morrison with 4.2 per cent.