* Holger Beeck to take over from Bane Knezevic
* Knezevic leaves at own request after 8 years as CEO
FRANKFURT, Oct 10 (Reuters) - McDonald’s Corp said it has appointed a new head of its German operations, as the world’s largest restaurant chain grapples with a downturn in consumer spending in Europe.
Holger Beeck, 54, currently chief operating officer, will take over at the end of November from Bane Knezevic, who is stepping down from the chief executive role at his own request after eight years, the company said. His new role will be announced at a later date, McDonald’s said on Thursday.
Germany is McDonald’s fourth-largest market with 3.2 billion euros ($4.3 billion) of sales. But performance has been weak in recent quarters, with the company losing ground to rivals such as Burger King Worldwide Inc.
Net sales in Germany rose 1.6 percent last year, the slowest growth since 2004. Same-store sales, which strip out new openings, dropped 0.2 percent in 2012, according to data from trade magazine Food Service, against a 5.4 percent gain for Burger King.
Knezevic, a 48-year old from Serbia who started at the chain in 1988, increased McDonald’s sales in Germany from 2.2 billion euros to 3.2 billion euros during his tenure as CEO.
Beeck has worked for McDonald’s for almost 30 years and oversaw the complete refurbishment of stores in Germany and the introduction of the McCafe coffee shops, of which there are now 830 in the country.
McDonald’s Germany is the country’s largest fast-food chain, with around 1,440 restaurants serving more than 2.7 million people a day.