McDonald’s (MCD) is facing more challenges than ever before.
Sales are weakening, profits are declining and workers are organizing global protests for higher wages. The company is also facing growing unrest among franchisees, who have expressed frustration over McDonald’s rapidly expanding menu and frequent promotions.
These tensions could come to a head on Thursday at the company’s annual shareholder’s meeting. Amid the mounting pressure, the company has decided to bar reporters from attending the meeting this year.
MCD claims that it’s excluding press from the event because reporters didn’t show enough interest in attending.
“This year, based on direct feedback from reporters and steadily declining media attendance, we are solely inviting media to listen to the meeting via webcast, as for quarterly earnings,” McDonald’s spokeswoman Lisa McComb told Business Insider. “This also levels the playing field for reporters outside of Chicago who do not receive budget approval to travel.”
But a former MCD executive says the move is more likely a result of the pressure the company is feeling from shareholders, franchisees and especially workers — who are planning to protest at the meeting in Oakbrook, Ill.
“They are under a lot of pressure,” said Richard Adams, who worked in the fast food chain’s corporate offices for nearly two decades before starting his own consulting firm for franchisees. “They are control freaks. They are trying to control the message by keeping [the press] out.”
Retail analyst Brian Sozzi agrees that the move is designed to avoid negative press.
“Aside from the protests and hot button minimum wage issue, McDonald’s has lost share in breakfast to Taco Bell,” Sozzi said. “There are pictures of chicken McNuggets being ground up into paste circulating on Twitter. Burger King U.S. is beating the company in terms of same store sales growth. And, frankly, the operating performance of the business has been dreadful.”
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