April 9, 2015 – 7:53PM
Commercial Property Editor
The venerable Big Mac is feeling the heat from a new breed of burger outlets.
The McDonald’s outlet on the corner of George and Bridge Streets in Sydney’s CBD, long a spot popular with revellers looking for a late night snack, has closed, with the fast-food giant deciding not to renew the lease.
The closure also comes with Sydney in the grip of so-called burger wars, as new outlets offer fresh variations on the meat pattie in a bun.
Further down George Street at World Square people have been seen queuing out into the street to sample Neil Perry’s Burger Project , while other new kids like Burger Shed, and Grill’d are offering everything from the traditional Aussie burger with beetroot and pineapple to fancy pulled pork sliders.Hit by fast-food rivals like Chipotle, McDonald’s has been doing it tough internationally, with global CEO Don Thompson stepping down in March amid falling sales.
The local Australian business has been performing well though, with its last annual accounts showing a 25 per cent increase in profit to $234.4 million.
Having served Big Macs for many years at 244 George Street, McDonald’s said it would focus on opening other sites across town as part of a “strategic repositioning”.
Director of development for McDonald’s Australia John Bannister said the group would now focus on a major upgrade and redevelopment of its flagship restaurant at Gateway, Circular Quay.
“The decision not to renew the 244 George lease was part of our strategic repositioning in the Sydney city,” he said.
“The city is a fast moving environment, particularly now with the new developments planned and proposed, so we want to be on our toes for any sites that may suit for a new McDonald’s’s.”
He said the group, which is the biggest fast-food company in the country ahead of KFC and Hungry Jacks, has 945 outlets across Australia and looks to open 30 stores a year.
“Our preferred method is to own the building, but in capital cities, that isn’t always possible.
But as Sydney evolves and more residents enter, we will look at all possible new retail developments,” he said.
As part of the strategic plans, McDonald’s is pushing gourmet burgers and other sites focussed on offering more salads and weight-conscious food.
Agencies Tim Green Commercial and Knight Frank have been appointed by the owner of 244 George to lease the property.
There were suggestions that Woolworths was looking at the site for the new convenience style outlet, but a spokesman said, they supermarket giant was not taking the discussion any further and would continue to look for another CBD-based outlet.
Mr Bannister said McDonald’s owns retail shops in the Sydney CBD including 375-377 George, 256 Pitt and 863-867George Streets, while also leasing a number.
The Sydney Morning Herald