McDonald’s UK CEO: “We underestimated how hard it was going to be to re-open”

Exclusive: Paul Pomroy on avoiding rash decisions, his darkest lockdown moment and crisis leadership.

by Stephen Jones

When McDonald’s UK CEO Paul Pomroy last spoke to Management Today in September 2019 he said that the fast food giant was operating in the toughest trading period it had seen - a perilous triumvirate of slowing high street footfall, shrinking consumer confidence and the looming prospect of a hard Brexit.

Like many leaders, he now looks back on those conditions like a walk in the park. Nothing he’d faced before came close to the economic and physical impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On March 22, Pomroy took the decision to shut all of its 1,450 plus restaurants, which are operated by over 200 franchisees, despite having the option to remain open to serve takeaways. 

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