McDonald's to Double Stores in South Korea

OAK BROOK, Ill. ( TheStreet) -- McDonald's ( MCD) plans to double its presence in South Korea by 2015.

McDonald's Korea CEO Sean Newton said the goal of the $449 million investment will be to open 243 new McDonald's restaurants by 2015, the majority of which will be franchised, and 80% of which will feature drive-thru windows.

The announcement came during a press conference in central Seoul, as reported by Korea Joongang Daily.

That would bring McDonald's total presence in South Korea to around 500 restaurants.

"Many global companies have focused on other emerging markets, but Korea is one of the five top priority markets for McDonald's," Newton said. "Korea is economically advanced, yet penetration of quick-service restaurants is less than one-third of the rate in countries such as France or England."

Newton said that McDonald's South Korea unit booked double-digit revenue growth last year, the fifth straight year of double-digit sales gains.

McDonald's Korea, originally a joint venture established in 1988, was bought out by the U.S. based parent company in 2006. Since then, delivery service and 24-hour restaurants have become available at some locations in the country. Food preparation systems implemented at McDonald's Korea locations allow employees to complete customer orders in less than one minute.

Newton said it was not the intention of McDonald's Korea to outshine local fast-food chain Lotteria, a unit of Japan's privately held Lotte Holdings. Lotteria has nearly 900 locations in Korea.

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