Magazine article Marketing

Declaration of Independence

Magazine article Marketing

Declaration of Independence

Article excerpt

Burger King has restructured its management to allow greater autonomy in the UK. But some City analysts believe BK is poorly supported by Grand Met,

Burger King last week unveiled a new management structure to give its UK operations more independence and once again attempt to take the fight to McDonald's.

The new set-up, placing the emphasis on the UK as a separate market, mirrors the structure McDonald's has employed since it launched here 22 years ago.

McDonald's has always emphasised local marketing, employing a UK president who is responsible for all aspects of the company's activities in this country. The current incumbent, Paul Preston, an American who has been in the UK for 21 years, reports directly to McDonald's HQ in Oak Brook, Illinois.

The strategy has worked, with McDonald's share of the British burger market standing at around 75%, and its brand image synonymous with the family fast-food market. The company itself credits much of its success to its UK marketing. "It's very important to keep a local identity, with local sourcing and employees," said a McDonald's spokesman.

Burger King has struggled to find a clear identity in the UK. It has, until now, included the UK within a marketing operation also responsible for the rest of Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The new appointments made last week change all that. Former Dunkin Donuts UK vice-president operations Chris Smith becomes Burger King's first general manager for the UK. The UK marketing director Samantha Smith (head-hunted from McDonald's last year) will report to him.

John Prior, formerly CPC's international marketing manager, who looked Hellman's, Lesieur and Ambrosia, has been named marketing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

As part of the shake-up, Craig Bushey, who was managing director of Western Europe, has left BK.

The extra layer of management is aimed at increasing the autonomy of BK's UK operations to tackle the domestic market. Given the furore over BSE, the idea appears sound. Not only is Britain a case unto itself at the moment, it is also the largest European burger market.

But Burger King is by its nature a very American-dominated company: despite its presence in 58 countries, 85% of its profits come from the US, with only around 10% generated by the UK. …

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