McDonald's Japan Forecasts First Full-Year Profit in 3 Years

  • President Casanova plans to accelerate company recovery
  • Company to complete store closures in first half of 2016

McDonald’s Corp.’s Japan business forecast that it will return to full-year profitability for the first time in three years, as the company deploys new measures in an attempt to win back customers after being hit by a series of food crises.

Net income will probably be 1 billion yen ($8.7 million) for the year ending December 2016, the fast-food chain said in a statement Tuesday. The company has said in April it would shut stores and cut jobs to cope with the scandals including foreign objects found in its food.

”We’ve seen a considerable reversal of momentum in the later half of 2015 and the momentum continues to grow,” President Sarah Casanova said at a post-earnings press conference in Tokyo Tuesday, adding she’s planning to accelerate the company’s recovery. ”There’s a possibility to grow profitability more. It’s difficult to put a timeline on it.”

The fast food chain, which last month introduced the salty-sweet “McChoco Potato” fries to Japanese customers, saw its first increase in customers since April 2013, as visitors to its stores open at least a year rose 17 percent in January and sales increased 35 percent. The improvement comes as its parent ponders selling a stake in the Japan unit, as Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald’s reviews its ownership strategies worldwide.

Casanova said it’s premature to comment on the parent’s stake sale and added the company will complete store closures in the first half of this year. It plans to shut 30 to 60 outlets this year, it said in a statement Tuesday.

Net loss for 2015 was 34.7 billion yen in the year ended December, compared with a loss of 21.8 billion yen the previous year, McDonald’s Holdings Co. (Japan) said Tuesday. The Tokyo-based company predicted a full-year loss of 38 billion yen last April.

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