McDonald’s Closing More Stores Than It’s Opening For First Time In At Least 40 Years

For the past several months McDonald’s and its new CEO Steve Easterbrook have attempted to initiate a turnaround for the slumping Golden Arches including earmarking nearly 700 stores for closure. As a result of those measures the company’s footprint is expected to shrink for the first time in nearly four decades.

That is according to a new analysis from the Associated Press that looked at McDonald’s regulatory flings and found that the fast food giant’s plan to close more stores than it opens this year makes 2015 the first non-growth year for the company since at least 1970.

McDonald’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission only started reporting store numbers in 1970. The AP theorizes that the company hadn’t actually slowed its growth since the mid-1950s.

A spokesperson for McDonald’s declined to provide a year for which the company last shrank and couldn’t comment on the specific number of stores closing this year — or whether it was more than the 700 announced previously.

However, the company says the reduction is “minimal” when compared to the 14,300 McDonald’s restaurants in the U.S. The closing stores will be a mix of franchise and company-owned locations.

The closures are part of a strategic review intended to set the stage for future growth, the spokesperson says.

The AP reports that the shrinking footprint of the company is in stark contrast to the rapid expansion it has become known for.

Industry analysts say that the once unstoppable growth of the chain likely led to a “natural overconfidence,” despite new chains like Chipotle gaining customer love.

Slimming down, McDonald’s to shed restaurants [The Associated Press]