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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 April, 2004, 09:59 GMT 10:59 UK
McDonald's enjoys its salad days
Children eating at McDonald's
McDonald's has been trying to rebuild the next generation's loyalty
Sales of healthier snacks such as salads have helped fast-food giant McDonald's report a 56% increase in first-quarter profits.

The company has been marketing a new range of diet-conscious fast foods to meet consumers' changing tastes.

Net income for the first three months of the year was $511.5m (285.4m), up from $327m for the same period in 2003.

McDonald's added that sales in Europe had picked up "significantly" since the introduction of the new salad range.

The company had reported weak European sales in March, but said the new 'Salads Plus' range had seen strong sales.

Sales surge

The profits announcement comes just a week after the death of the firm's chief executive Jim Cantalupo.

Mr Cantalupo took over the reins of the company in January 2003 and had been widely praised for turning around its flagging fortunes.

Sales at restaurants open at least a year were up 9.4%, McDonald's said, with US sales 14.2% higher.

It sold to 2.3 million more customers during the first quarter than in the same period last year.

"It's the equivalent of adding around 1,500 restaurants, yet we added only 100 over the past 12 months", said McDonald's new chief executive Charlie Bell.

New products

Large sums have been invested in providing and promoting new lines such as the McGriddles breakfast and fresh-fruit Happy Meal options for kids.

McDonald's also announced in April this year that it is to launch a range of children's clothing in North America and western Europe.

The McKids range will be designed, made and distributed by Chinese firm Shanghai Longtrust Trade.

Shares in McDonald's closed down 12 cents at $27.20 on Tuesday.

McDonald's: The journey to health
20 Apr 04  |  Business
McDonald's CEO Jim Cantalupo dies
19 Apr 04  |  Business
Should super-sized fast food be banned?
15 Mar 04  |  Have Your Say

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