McDonald's to double China restaurant count by 2013

Oak Brook, Ill. -- McDonald's Corp. said Wednesday it plans to double the number of its restaurants in China to 2,000 units by 2013.

According to a report by Reuters, the move is part of the hamburger chain’s strategy to speed up expansion in the fastest-growing major economy.

McDonald’s opened its first outlet in Shenzhen 20 years ago, and is now facing fierce competition from Pizza Hut and KFC parent Yum Brands, which has about 3,700 outlets in China.

But McDonald’s has rapidly stepped up expansion, opening 165 new restaurants in China in 2010, with a plan to add up to 200 outlets in 2011.

"China has been the fastest-growing market for McDonald's worldwide with regard to new restaurant opening," its China CEO Kenneth Chan said. "It took us almost 19 years to reach 1,000 restaurants. We will get our next 1,000 restaurants within three years.”

To help attract more customers, McDonald’s has also begun to update its outlets with a new bright color palette, soft seating and upgraded interiors. Four restaurants in downtown Beijing have gotten a face-lift already, and 80% of its outlets across China will be upgraded by 2013, according to the report.

In addition, half of all new McDonald's restaurants to be opened in the next three years in China will feature drive-thrus to appeal to China's increasingly mobile population, Chan said.