McDonald’s has announced it has expanded the role of global brand chief and former UK chief executive Steve Easterbrook to include corporate strategy, CSR and operational responsibility for its c.35,000 restaurants worldwide.

Easterbrook, who had brief stints as chief executive of both Wagamama and PizzaExpress before returning to McDonald’s last year, has been given senior executive vice president status at the global chain, after the decision by its chief operating officer Tim Fenton to retire this October.

Fenton will continue to serve as chief operating officer during a brief transition period, and thereafter, as a special advisor to chief executive Don Thompson focused on global franchising, restaurant portfolio optimization and other strategic business initiatives.

The company will not replace the COO role, but will broaden responsibilities for two senior leaders. Pete Bensen, 51, executive vice president and chief financial officer, will assume oversight for worldwide supply chain, development and franchising functions.

Easterbrook, executive vice president and global chief brand officer, will assume oversight for the restaurant solutions group; corporate strategy; and the global CSR, sustainability and philanthropy department. The board has elected Bensen and Easterbrook senior executive vice presidents.

“We are confident that Pete, Steve and our global leadership team will remain focused on driving the business forward and delivering an outstanding restaurant experience to our 70 million customers we serve daily around the world,” said Thompson.

“On behalf of the entire McDonald’s System, I salute Tim for his 41 years of continuous service to McDonald’s, and want to thank him for his countless contributions to our business. We have benefitted greatly from his international experience, deep commitment to operational excellence and proven track record of success.”

“I’m making a difficult and personal decision to retire,” said Fenton. “It’s widely known that I battle severe asthma. I simply cannot continue to meet the global travel demands of this position and will focus on improving my health closer to home. I intend to always be of service to this great company, our employees, customers and suppliers.”