Mastermind of McDonald's comeback dies
A heart attack claims Jim Cantalupo, the executive who refocused the struggling fast-food giant, revamped its menu and energized franchise holders. Stock price suffers. New CEO named.
By Kim Khan, CNBC
Fast-food chain McDonald's (MCD, news, msgs) Chairman and Chief Executive Jim Cantalupo, 60, died of an apparent heart attack this morning.
Later this morning, the company named President and Chief Operating Officer Charlie Bell the new CEO. Bell, 42, joined the company when he was 15 and became the youngest McDonald's restaurant manager in Australia at age 19. He joined the board of the company at age 29, CNBC's Phil LeBeau reported. Check out a biography of Bell here.
Cantalupo had taken the reins at the struggling company in January 2003, revamped its menu and turned around its profit outlook.
New menu items, a back-to-basics approach and improvement in service quality helped the company recover from its first quarterly loss ever in the fourth quarter of 2002, LeBeau reported. Cantalupo also scaled back the Golden Arches' dollar menu and focused on value-added products.
The company said Cantalupo died at a worldwide convention of McDonald's restaurant owners and operators in Orlando, Fla. "Jim was a brilliant man who brought tremendous leadership, energy and passion to his job," Andrew McKenna, presiding director of McDonald's board, said in a statement. "He made an indelible mark on McDonald's system."
The company has seen impressive growth since Cantalupo was named CEO. After falling on tough times, the company achieved double-digit same-store sales growth just five months after he took over. McDonald's stock rose 61% during his tenure.
"It's quite a shock and very sad obviously," Timothy Ghriskey, chief investment officer at Solaris Asset Management, told Reuters. "But this is a big company where one person does not make the decisions. I am not sure who was responsible for McDonald's recent product success but I believe it was more than just Cantalupo."