12 dramatic changes McDonald's made this year

McDonald’s has been making huge changes in the past year to revive lagging sales and improve its public image.

The company hired a new CEO, removed some items from the menu while adding new ones, and launched a massive marketing campaign to answer customer concerns about its food.

Here’s a round-up of everything that has changed in the last year, as well as some of the recently announced changes to come.

The company hired a new CEO.

McDonald's CEO Don Thompson resigned in March and Steve Easterbrook, formerly the chief brand officer, took his place.

Easterbrook, 47, is the fast food chain's first British CEO. Before McDonald's, he was briefly the CEO of British restaurant brands PizzaExpress and Wagamama.

Easterbrook revealed his turnaround strategy for McDonald's earlier this month, saying he planned to strip away layers of management, focus more on listening to customers, and act faster to adapt to consumers' changing tastes.

It also cut a bunch of sandwiches from the menu.

A $5 meal from McDonald's

McDonald's axed the Deluxe Quarter Pounder burger, six chicken sandwiches, and the honey mustard and chipotle barbecue snack wraps, Bloomberg reported.

Critics say McDonald's bloated menu has dramatically slowed down customer service.

The menu has grown 42.4% in the past seven years, to 121 items from 85 items in 2007, according to The Wall Street Journal.

While axing some items, the chain has also added premium sirloin burgers to the menu.

McDonald's added a Sirloin Third Pounder to the menu, with patties that weigh about 1.3 ounces more than the Quarter Pounder.

The limited-time sandwich costs $US4.99 in most markets, the AP reports.

The burgers come with lettuce and tomato, bacon, and cheese, or Steakhouse style, which has grilled mushrooms, onions, white cheddar cheese, and peppercorn sauce.

The new sandwich is the biggest burger on McDonald's menu since 2013, when the chain retired the Angus Third Pounders following a four-year run.

And it launched a delivery service.

McDonald's started offering delivery in parts of New York City.

The service is initially available only to customers in Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan.

McDonald's is working with the delivery service Postmates to transport the food, and some of the 88 restaurants involved in the test will offer delivery 24 hours a day.

Customers can order anything from the menu except for ice cream cones.

McDonald's is going to stop displaying the full menu on drive-through menu boards.

McDonald's is simplifying its drive-through menu boards to speed up customer service.

The company told franchisees during a webcast that it would start displaying only top-selling items on outdoor menus, the Wall Street Journal reported.

McDonald's has been criticised for its long drive-through waits.

The chain's average drive-through wait is currently three minutes and 9.5 seconds, which is the longest average wait time in at least 15 years, according to a study by QSR Magazine.

The chain started testing an all-day breakfast menu.

McDonald's started testing an all-day breakfast menu last month in San Diego, and recently revealed that it would be expanding the test to Nashville.

Customers have been begging the burger chain for years to offer its McMuffins, McGriddles, and other signature breakfast items all day long.

On weekdays, McDonald's stops serving breakfast at 10:30 a.m. in most markets.

The company has previously said it doesn't serve 24-hour breakfast because its grills aren't big enough to handle both breakfast and lunch items.

'It comes down to the sheer size of kitchen grills,' the company says on its website. 'They simply don't have the room for all of our menu options at one time -- especially considering we use our grill to prepare many items on our breakfast menu.'

McDonald's announced plans to improve the quality of its chicken.

McDonald's has been rolling out upgrades to its chicken over the last couple months in an attempt to better compete with rivals like Chick-fil-A.

The company announced plans to phase out the use of human antibiotics in its chicken by 2017. The chain is also removing a number of hard-to-pronounce ingredients from the grilled chicken used for sandwiches and wraps, and renaming it 'Artisan Grilled Chicken.'

Additionally, the company is testing a more upscale fried chicken recipe, according to investment firm Janney Capital Markets.

The new Buttermilk Crispy Chicken 'is made with real buttermilk and will be cooked in the same fryer as McDonald's other fried chicken menu items including Chicken McNuggets,' the company says.

'All of this fits in with McDonald's attempts to improve itself -- to be essentially a better McDonald's than it has been as of late,' Janney Capital Markets analyst Mark Kalinowski wrote in a recent research note.

And reintroduced Premium Chicken Selects.

The company has brought back Premium Chicken Selects, which cost $US2.99 for a three-piece order, compared with $US1.99 for a four-piece Chicken McNugget order.

The Premium Chicken Selects are made from whole pieces of chicken tenderloin that are breaded and fried, whereas McNuggets are made from ground chicken meat.

McDonald's is rolling out customisable burgers.

McDonald's is rolling out customisable burger options in its US restaurants that enable customers to build their own sandwiches from a list of premium ingredients, including guacamole and jalapeno.

McDonald's raised wages for some of its employees.

McDonald's announced that it would be raising wages by more than 10%, but the increase applies to only a fraction of its workers.

The changes do not impact franchisee-owned restaurants, which account for 90% of the more than 14,000 McDonald's locations in the US. That means that just 10% of employees will see a pay bump.

The company is adding more mid-priced sandwiches to the menu.

McDonald's is adding more mid-priced sandwiches, including a McChicken sandwich with leaf lettuce and tomato and a double burger with leaf lettuce and tomato, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The sandwiches will sell for roughly $US1.50, about 30¢ more than similar sandwiches the company currently offers.

The new sandwiches should please franchisees who have complained that there are too many items on the menu at the high end and low end of the pricing structure and not enough mid-priced items, The Journal notes.

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