McDonald's rejects Oliver attack
McDonald's has hit back at criticism by Jamie Oliver, saying its UK restaurants are serving more people than ever as the recession makes cheap meal deals more attractive.
The TV chef described the fast food chain's presence at the London Olympic and Paralympic Games as "very contradictory", having already criticised the Golden Arches' dominance at London 2012 previously.
His latest comments come in the same week as McDonald's reported that British sales are up more than 5% on last year.
Although the American chain's net income is down nearly 4% in the third quarter, its presence at the Olympic Park has not damaged its popularity with British families.
Speaking at the global youth summit, One Young World, in Pittsburgh this week, Oliver said: "Myself and a group of cardiologists raised the point that it was very contradictory to have the largest McDonald's on the site of the latest Olympics. What I don't like is the short-sightedness of the board that control it, and the fact that that McDonald's contract is signed up until 2024.
"It wasn't even just the fact that McDonald's did all the food, it was the fact that they weren't even big enough and strong enough to sort of say, do you know what, we're going to have a hundred little pop-up, street food vendors, from all the immigrant communities in Britain, that represent a very large amount of the countries that are visiting here."
Jill McDonald, CEO of McDonald's UK, said that the increase in sales in the UK has a lot to do with the attractive prices that appeal to people who may be struggling in the recession.
"We experienced another strong quarter of growth in sales and customer visits all around the UK, with people choosing us because we continue to provide good food and good service at great value for money."
She added: "However, we realise that things are still tough out there - for the country and for our customers - and there remain challenging times ahead. That's why we're determined to maintain momentum by continuing to invest in the long term growth of our business, listen to our customers and use what we learnt at London 2012 to give people a great experience every time they visit us."
The McDonald's boss also defended the restaurant's presence at the Olympics, saying it played an "essential" role in the Games' success. She said: "A lot of people don't realise the role we played in the Olympics - it goes far beyond simple brand exposure. Sponsorship is essential to the successful staging of the Olympics, and in our role as a London 2012 sponsor, we used our catering experience and customer service expertise to provide high-quality food and help train the 70,000 volunteers needed to make the Games a success."