McDonald's to launch healthy range in supermarkets

LONDON - McDonald's, which last week fought off an obesity suit, is reported to be looking at selling a range of 'healthy' foods in supermarkets as it seeks new channels for its brand.

According to a report in The Sunday Times, the fast food giant is looking at launching a new retail range of fast food health snacks such as wraps and baguettes.

News of the brand extensions follow the launch of McDonald's first ever global marketing campaign, with the "I'm loving it" tagline, and the hiring of singer Justin Timberlake as its global brand ambassador.

The "I'm lovin it" campaign hits the UK on September 17, backed by an estimated £7m spend through Starcom Motive.

Russ Smyth, president of McDonald's in Europe, said: "We would like to use other retail outlets -- convenience stores, Sainsbury's or Tesco."

The move is the latest effort by McDonald's to revamp its tarnished image, which has seen it the focus of critics, who have accused it of contributing to the West's growing obesity problem with its unhealthy offering of fries and burgers.

The obesity suit brought by two teenagers against McDonald's was thrown out of court for the second time last week, in a move that the fast food company said was a victory for common sense.

The teenagers blamed their obesity on McDonald's advertising, saying it was deceptive and that the restaurant had failed to provide nutritional information at all of its stores.

A spokesman for McDonald's said: "As we've said all along, our menu can absolutely be part of a healthy balanced lifestyle."

The move into new markets and new channels coincides with problems for its restaurants, which face increasing competition from a range of new rivals, including healthy sandwich stores and coffee chains like Starbucks.

To combat the problem, McDoanld's has also done the unthinkable and begun to close stores as it abandons a policy of growth through store openings. Instead, it is refurbishing existing stores and introducing a new, less plastic look.

For the first time, McDonald's has seen profits begin to slide and in the three months to June they were down to $470m (£296.2m) from around $500m last time.

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