How chocolate fries and Pikachu helped turn around McDonald’s Japan

McDonald’s Japan took a series of hits starting in 2014 that threatened to crack its Golden Arches: a supplier was selling expired chicken, a human tooth was found in french fries and a child was injured by a plastic shard inside a sundae. Sales plummeted to their lowest since the company went public in 2001, and the chain closed hundreds of restaurants. McDonald’s Corp. in the US said it was considering selling its 49.9 percent stake in the Japanese company as losses piled up. Yet CEO Sarah Casanova decided to counter-punch. Casanova revamped the menu to add local flavors like the pork-and-ginger “Yakki Burger” and quirky headline-grabbing items like chocolate-covered fries. She gave many outlets a facelift and also forged a partnership featuring Pokemon characters. Since then, the shine has returned to the arches. McDonald’s Japan stock closed at an all-time high Sept. 11 as part of a 62 percent increase this year. More