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McDonald's CEO Skinner Set To Retire

OAK BROOK, Ill. (CBS) -- The chief executive officer of Oak Brook-based McDonald's Corp. has decided to retire later this year.

Jim Skinner, who has been CEO of McDonald's since 2004, announced his retirement plans Wednesday. Skinner, 67, is known for growing McDonald's in the past decade, and helping move its image just past that of burgers and fries.

The current McDonald's president, Don Thompson, 48, will take over for Skinner this summer. Thompson will be the first African-American president in McDonald's history.

Skinner was among the group of executives that designed the "Plan to Win," which was rolled out in 2003. The plan is credited with turning around the company, which had seen its stock drop after years of corporate expansion. Under the plan, McDonald's scaled back on new stores openings, got rid of unprofitable businesses and expanded its menu items.

The chain has since been a standout in the fast-food industry. It has been able to post strong results despite a brutal U.S. economic downturn by keeping prices low with its popular "The Dollar Menu" items, remodeling its stores and upgrading its menu with premium coffees and healthier alternatives like oatmeal and smoothies.

McDonald's global sales at stores open at least a year -- an indicator of a restaurant chain's health -- have gone up every month for more than eight years. Its stock price, now trading around $96, dwarves the sub-$13 it traded at in 2003, when" Plan to Win" was introduced.

McDonald's faces some big challenges going forward, though. One of them is the economic turmoil in Europe, which is McDonald's largest market by revenue.

Like other companies of all stripes, McDonald's also has been troubled by rising costs for its ingredients and labor. And because McDonald's has done so well for so long, it faces intense pressure to post higher sales every month and higher numbers every quarter.

McDonald's began in 1940 as a barbecue restaurant in San Bernardino, Calif., in 1940, operated by brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald. The company as we now know it began 1955 when Ray Kroc bough the chain from the McDonalds and turned it into a worldwide fast food juggernaut.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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