New Zealand’s McDonald’s restaurants had one of their best sales years ever in 2009, helped in no small part by the recession as more people turned to fast food, says the local head.

The company spent more than $145 million buying goods from local suppliers in 2009 – up $25m on the year before, McDonald’s New Zealand managing director Mark Hawthorne told the New Zealand Herald.

Other fast food outlets prospered also. Restaurant Brands New Zealand – owners of KFC, Pizza Hut and Starbucks – also had a successful 2009, more than doubling its share price last year.

Mr Hawthorne said the recession caused some people to “trade down” to eating at fast food restaurants.
The financial crisis meant there was cheaper land and interest rates were a lot lower.

McDonald’s is spending $300m over three years expanding its network. Ten new restaurants were opened last year and another 10 will open this year.

Before the recession McDonald’s struggled to find enough workers, but those employment issues had faded with the downturn, he said.