McDonald's to launch 150 customized burger stores in China in 2016

The sign for the U.S. fast food restaurant chain McDonald's is shown outside one of their restaurants in central Brussels, Belgium December 3, 2015. REUTERS/Yves Herman

HONG KONG (Reuters) - McDonald's Corp MCD.N plans to launch in China this year 150 outlets where clients can customize burgers to suit their tastes, as the world's top restaurant chain aims to grow sales in the country after being hit by a fast-food scandal in 2014.

The U.S. burger chain currently has 11 such outlets on the mainland, including in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Beijing, Regina Hui, senior director of communications for McDonald’s China said in an email received late on Thursday, in which she also disclosed the plans for the 150 restaurants.

McDonald’s beat analyst forecasts for quarterly same-restaurant sales this week, adding momentum to a global recovery for the chain as demand picked up in China.

Its same-store sales in China rose 4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015, the second straight quarter of growth after four quarters of falling sales.

McDonald's and Yum Brands Inc YUM.N, the parent of KFC and Pizza Hut, are slowly turning things around in China, although same-restaurant sales for both firms remain below pre-scandal levels, according to a Reuters analysis of available data.

The so-called ‘Create Your Taste’ outlets allow customers to build customized burgers from a wide selection of ingredients.

Hui said the chain had seen “very positive feedback” from local diners, who analysts say are increasingly tough to win over due to greater health awareness and a boom in the range of available dining options.

“They like the taste of burgers, the digital experience and the table service,” said Hui.

McDonald’s Chief Executive Steve Easterbrook launched a turnaround plan last year that involved making the menu simpler, improving service times and raising worker wages.

Reporting by Donny Kwok and Adam Jourdan; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman