McDonald’s to trial table service in the UK

Selected stores will trial the system as the fast food chain looks to fight off competition from upmarket burger joints. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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IT HAS always been synonymous with fast at-the-counter service and eating on the go.

But now McDonald’s has introduced table service in a bid to attract more family customers and take on competition from gourmet burger chains.

McDonald’s was perceived as the epitome of fast food

Leigh Sparks

A McDonald’s restaurant in Scotland is to take part in the pilot scheme, which will see the service rolled out to 11 branches UK-wide. A Manchester branch of the fast food chain has already become the first to offer table service this week.

Customers will be able to order from staff with digital computers or at digital kiosks and have their food delivered to them at the table by a waiter or waitress. It hopes the service will appeal to families with young children who do not want to wait in a long queue.

Leigh Sparks, professor of retail at Stirling University, said the scheme could provide a more streamlined service for the firm.

“It would make their product flow much easier,” he said. “There is a saving there, so they are trading off the quicker ordering process with having it brought to the customer.”

The move is the latest attempt by McDonald’s to throw off its fast food image and appeal to a wider range of customers.

In recent years, the chain has expanded its coffee offering and has attempted to create a more healthy range of food, putting heavier emphasis on provenance and the quality of its ingredients.

The rise of popularity of luxury burger chains such as Gourmet Burger Kitchen and popular London brand Byron, which is due to open its first Scottish restaurants later this year, combined with a higher public awareness of healthy eating, has put pressure on McDonald’s.

Prof Sparks added: “A few years ago, McDonald’s was much perceived as the epitome of fast food and unhealthy fast food at that, therefore, they have had to shake off that image by playing up the credentials of where its products have come from and help them appeal to different groups.”

A McDonald’s spokesman said one Scottish restaurant will be involved in the trial, but said it would not yet reveal which branch will take part. “We have listened to customer feedback and to meet their evolving expectations we are significantly investing in our restaurants to create an exciting new environment and improve the customer experience,” he said.

“We are testing some new concepts, such as table service, whereby customers place their order via our new digital kiosks and then have their food brought to them. It is currently on test in our Mottram restaurant in Greater Manchester, but with plans to increase the trial over the coming month.”

The idea that has already been launched in other countries including France, Germany and Australia.

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