Updates from 5:50 p.m. EDT with company executives' comments and stock price.
Just weeks after announcing a sluggish second quarter in the U.S., McDonald's announced Wednesday its U.S. head, Mike Andres, will retire from his role effective Dec. 31. Taking over the position on Jan. 1 will be Chris Kempczinski.
Kempczinski joined the Golden Arches in September, and was tasked with overseeing all aspects of strategy, planning, innovation and new concepts. Previously, he served as executive vice president of growth initiatives and president of international at the former Kraft Foods Group.
McDonald's shares are unchanged in late trading after closing Wednesday at $115.66, up 0.3%. are confident Chris is the right leader to build upon our U.S. progress and bring a new level of convenience and excitement to the restaurant experience," McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook said in a statement.
He added, "His proven track record of driving change is invaluable as we continue to transform McDonald's into a modern, progressive burger company."
Said Andres on his retirement, "With the strides we have made in the U.S. business this is the right time for me to retire."
The timing of the announcement, which comes toward the end of the third quarter, suggests McDonald's hasn't regained a ton of momentum in the U.S. after its turnaround badly stalled in the second quarter.
Same-store sales in the U.S., its largest market, rose 1.8% from the prior year during the second quarter, badly missing Wall Street forecasts for a 3.2% increase. Of particular concern is same-store sales growth cooled drastically from a 5.4% increase in the first quarter. McDonald's promised it will add additional items to its all-day breakfast menu and enhance its core items this fall in a bid to jump-start sales.
There is one glaring hole in Kempczinski's resume, however. He has never held an executive position at a restaurant prior to joining McDonald's. It's unclear from his LinkedIn profile if he has worked in a restaurant at all during his career. So that makes him a somewhat odd choice to arguably be the number two exec at the world's largest restaurant chain. As is common in the fast food space, many C-suite level executives have decades of operating experience.
Case in point is the current crop of McDonald's U.S. execs who will report to Kempczinski. Other than Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Wahl, who joined McDonald's in 2014 after spending many years at home builder Pulte Home (PHM) - Get Report , the entire U.S. executive team has decades of restaurant industry experience, mostly from McDonald's. Chief Restaurant Operations Officers Charlie Robeson, for example, began his career with McDonald's as a crew member in Dayton, Ohio, more than 38 years ago.
The lack of Kempczinski's restaurant experience seems to be OK with Easterbrook, who has made it a focus since taking over in 2015 to shake up McDonald's stale culture by shifting around execs. "Chris is a progressive, strategic thinker with a deep understanding of consumers and the marketplace," McDonald's spokeswoman Terri Hickey told TheStreet via email.
She added, "His significant experience in strategy and operations with some of the world's leading consumer companies, including Procter & Gamble , PepsiCo and most recently, Kraft Heinz, along with his track record of driving transformative change is invaluable as we continue our journey of building a better McDonald's."
Good luck, my man.