McDonald’s has opted not to sell a stake in its Japanese counterpart thanks in part to Pokémon GO.
In 2016, McDonald’s noted that it was considering selling part of its ownership in McDonald’s Holding Co. Japan, a Japanese company that owns and franchises over 3,700 McDonald’s restaurants in Japan. While McDonald’s Japanese arm was once profitable, sales had dropped dramatically due to a series of scandals related to meat quality.
However, McDonald’s fortunes turned around in 2016, thanks to two major changes. McDonald’s revamped its menu in Japan in 2016, bringing back several popular (and cheap) menu items, and it teamed up with Pokémon GO to transform many restaurants into either gyms or PokéStops. McDonald’s also ran a popular kid’s meal campaign that gave away plastic Pokémon figurines.
As a result of these changes, McDonald’s reported an almost 20% increase in sales in March 2017 compared to previous years. The strong performance also helped increase McDonald’s total overseas sales by over 10%. Because of the strong performance, McDonald’s announced that it had frozen its plans to sell, as their Japanese arm had turned things around.
It should be noted that McDonalds has only “frozen” its plans to sell off its Japanese business. If sales dip again, the sale could be back on. In that case, don’t expect McDonald’s to stop its partnership with Pokémon GO anytime soon.