The move follows similar relocations out of Britain by a number of other large firms, including advertising giant WPP, media company Informa and drug firm Shire Pharmaceuticals. Switzerland in particular has become popular as a new base for the European centres of US multinationals, with the likes of Kraft, Procter & Gamble and Google setting up home there recently.
Why all the interest in Geneva? Why would anyone want to be Phil Collins’s next door neighbour? Well, the intellectual property tax regime there is now considered to be a good deal more favourable than in Blighty. Especially since the rules governing the UK taxation of foreign profits from IP rights were tightened up by Alastair Darling - although not by half as much as he would have liked to.
The result is that overseas centres like Luxembourg, Ireland and Switzerland are now considered the hot places to set up shop in Europe, whereas London, well, it’s a bit 20th Century, yunno?
McDonalds European headquarters has long been in the British capital, where it opened its first UK store way back in 1974. The firm said that the move - to take place at the end of this year - had been 12 months in the planning and rather improbably also claimed that it was promoted less by tax changes than by the need to restructure.
Whatever the reasons, when it comes to the popularity of its products, there can be no contest between the two locations, surely? Like it or not, the recession has proved once again that we Brits can hardly get enough burgers, fries, shakes and McFlurry’s down our gullets, and sales of Mickey D’s here have hit near-record heights recently. Innovations such as the One Pound menu, and the introduction of healthy options like porridge and more salads, have certainly helped.
Not that we know many people who actually eat the salads in McDonalds, but we guess that simply having them on the menu makes people feel better about scarfing down a quarter of a pound of dead cow, plus pickles, relishes et al. At least they had the choice.
As for Switzerland, how will McD’s promote itself there? Maybe it’ll introduce an all-new fondue menu, where customers cook their own burgers in vats of boiling oil before dipping their buns (oo-er)in a gloopy pot of cheese goo and cementing it all together with a token lettuce leaf? Ronald McDonald could swap his frankly rather garish clown get-up for the sober uniform of the Swiss banker, and they could offer the chance to win a numbered deposit account with every Happy Meal.
You never know, it might catch on.
In today's bulletin