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McDonald’s to spend $3B on new, remodeled Golden Arches

Consumers will see more Golden Arches in the next year, as McDonald's says it will open up to 1,600 new restaurants and remodel another 1,000 restaurants.
Consumers will see more Golden Arches in the next year, as McDonald's says it will open up to 1,600 new restaurants and remodel another 1,000 restaurants. Chris Gardner

McDonald's Corp. said Thursday it plans to spend about $3 billion next year to open 1,500 to 1,600 new restaurants and remodel about 1,000 others. 

As part of that expansion, it will add another window to speed up its drive-thru service.

The world's biggest hamburger chain, which recently has struggled to meaningfully expand sales at established restaurants after years of outpacing its rivals, last month trimmed its 2013 capital spending outlook by $100 million to $3 billion and delayed some new restaurant openings until next year due to softness in China and some other emerging markets.

McDonald's says it's testing a "Fast Forward Drive-Thru," which will be featured in new and renovated restaurants starting next year.

Under the current setup, customers place their orders, then drive up to a window where they pick up their food. The Fast Forward Drive-Thru will let customers drive to a third stop if their orders aren't ready. 

McDonald's gets about 70 percent of its sales from the drive-thru, according to Richard Adams, who now runs a consulting firm for franchisees. 

The company known for Big Mac hamburgers and skinny, crispy french fries also laid out forecasts Thursday for 2014 commodity costs and other expenses. 

It expects overall commodity costs for 2014 to increase 1 percent to 2 percent in the United States and 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent in Europe. 

It also expects general and administrative costs to increase about $200 million, due to such factors as higher employee expenses and costs associated with its owner/operator convention and Winter Olympic sponsorship. 

McDonald's also repeated its prior forecast for 2014 of expected sales growth of 3 percent to 5 percent at restaurants open at least a year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.