Don Thompson, the first Black president and CEO of McDonald’s, is stepping down after a rocky nearly 3-year tenure, according to various media reports.
The move comes amid a falling customer base in the United States as competition rises from companies like Five Guys Burgers and Fries and Chipotle Mexican Grill, BBC News reports. Thompson will reportedly be replaced in March by Steve Easterbrook, the company’s current chief brand officer.
“It’s tough to say goodbye to the McFamily,” Thompson, a 25-year veteran of the company said in a press release Wednesday. The decision follows months of low-performing stocks, which jumped 3.2 percent following the announcement by the world’s largest fast-food chain, reports Reuters.
Thompson’s departure further erodes the dwindling ranks of Black executives running some of America’s largest companies, Bloomberg Business writes:
Outside of the world’s largest fast-food restaurant chain, only American Express Co., Delphi Automotive Plc, Merck & Co., Carnival Corp. and Xerox Corp. were headed by Black leaders last year among the largest 200 companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, according to executive recruiter Spencer Stuart.
“Companies over time had made great strides in diversity in the C-suite and the boardroom, and now it seems to be rolling back and it may be a while before it can move forward again,” said Sarah Stewart, an executive recruiter with Boyden in Pittsburgh, Pa. “Now the pool of candidates is not very large for people coming up behind these CEOs.”
Thompson, 51, who previously served as president of McDonald’s USA, took over the global helm in July 2012, facing the challenge of adding to nearly nine years of sales gains at established restaurants, Reuters reports:
But the following September, McDonald’s reported a decline in same-store sales as it fought to hold on to customers with changing tastes amid external pressures ranging from political and economic turmoil in Europe to food safety scares in China.
“I don’t think it was too much of a surprise. Maybe in the timing but not the action,” Sanford Bernstein analyst Sara Senatore said. “This has been something that people have been talking about for a while.”
After Thompson’s departure, the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company will still have two Black directors, Walter Massey and John Rogers Jr., according to Bloomberg.