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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 February 2006, 14:06 GMT
McDonald's to close 25 UK outlets
McDonalds sign
McDonalds has 1,250 UK restaurants
Fast-food chain McDonald's is closing 25 branches in a bid to improve profits at its struggling UK operations.

It is currently in talks with staff, but a spokeswoman said most of the closures would be older "high street" restaurants.

The company also has plans to turn 50 of its outlets into franchises.

The closures were listed in McDonald's annual accounts, which showed that poor British sales were dragging down its European figures.

In the accounts, the firm said its UK operations were "experiencing a highly competitive informal eating out market and low consumer confidence levels".

Not 'lovin' it'

It said the "UK remained a challenging marketplace and our efforts to gain traction in this market will take time".

McDonald's launched its global "Plan to Win" revitalisation strategy in 2003, which saw the company revamp its brand, refurbish its stores and introduce healthier menus.

It's new "I'm lovin' it" slogan has helped to increase sales in many parts of the world.

McDonalds restaurant
McDonalds is opening more branches away from the High Street

The UK closures will see the firm take a 23m ($40m) charge in the first quarter of 2006.

"We have to make sure we have the right restaurants in the right places," said a spokeswoman, who added that the group was looking to get the right mix of profitable sites in High Street, drive-through, out-of-town and other locations.

She said McDonald's still had plans to open new UK sites, such as the restaurant opened last week at Paddington Station in London.

McDonald's has about 1,250 restaurants in the UK, 63% of which are company-owned while the rest operate under franchise.

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