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McDonalds moves to the Dark Side

McDonald’s has opened its first “dark kitchen” as part of a plan to establish how to meet strongly increasing demand for delivery. In the company’s third-quarter financial results in October, McDonald’s UK and Ireland boss Paul Pomroy said delivery now accounted for more than 10 per cent of all its UK business.

McDonald’s started adding its menu to food app UberEATS in 2017, and now 950 sites across the country offer the service to customers. The brand’s first kitchen-only location, which operates in the same way as any other but is not customer-facing, opened in Hanworth, West London, as part of a “wider trial to test varying restaurant formats”.

McDonald’s is trying to work out how to improve efficiency when selling through food apps and to avoid compromising restaurant experiences for those who choose to buy food in person.
Currently, app orders are prepared and picked up from existing restaurants, which is having an impact on the customers going into branches to takeaway or eat in. It seems that McDonald’s is trying to figure out ways of ensuring that in-store diners are still getting the service they expect, without stunting the growth of its delivery operation.

In Hanworth, the “dark kitchen” will serve the same catchment area as a traditional restaurant would, and customers will be informed on their UberEATS receipt that their food has been prepared via the new method. A statement from McDonald’s said: “It’s important that our offer reflects the needs of the people in the local area, and the Hanworth delivery kitchen has recently opened to help nearby restaurants meet the demand from McDelivery orders.

“The dark kitchen opening will ensure that restaurants in the surrounding area can continue to provide the service and convenience that our customers expect, while ensuring that McDelivery customers have a great experience.

In March, Uber founder Travis Kalanick bought 100 dark kitchens globally with the intention of renting the spaces out to operators. Its competitor Deliveroo has around 15 dark kitchens operating across the UK.

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