McDonald's chief executive Steve Easterbrook has welcomed a new franchise deal with motorway service operator RoadChef, which could see fast-food restaurants open at 29 roadside locations. The group has announced it will open a restaurant at Strensham Services on the M5 in Worcestershire. It currently operates four restaurants at motorway service areas – but these are operated as individual concerns and the announcement of the deal with RoadChef marks a first multiple motorway site agreement for McDonald's. Easterbrook intimated that if the initial site, which opens in June, is a success then it could be rolled out at the other 29 sites that RoadChef operates. Sources are also indicating that the deal could lead to other agreements with motorway service operators and the possibility of the opening of a further 100 restaurants. Easterbrook said: “This is an exciting move for us. Our business has been performing well over the last couple of years as customers have responded positively to the changes we have been making to our menus and restaurants. “We believe that customers will welcome the strong value proposition that our brand will provide at Strensham. “Our new restaurant opening programme is also picking up pace. We expect to open 10 in 2008, after three years of no real growth in numbers, and if this restaurant performs to our expectations, there will are solid growth opportunities for us across the RoadChef network.” Simon Turl, chief executive of RoadChef, said: “McDonald's is recognised as the most popular, value for money consumer catering brand on the UK today. We are continuing to refine our portfolio of services and offers across our network and the introduction of McDonald's at Strensham is an important and welcome addition.” McDonald's operates 1193 restaurants in the UK, more than 50% of which are operated as franchisees. The fast-food chain, which opened its first UK outlet in 1974, last month suffered its first drop in like-for-like sales in the US for five years as hard-pressed US consumers cut back their spending. Europe, including the UK, generated 42% of the chain's sales in the first quarter and almost 40 per cent of its operating profit. The group now expects sales in Europe to climb between 5.5% and 6.5% this year, with Asia, the Middle East and Africa rising as much as 7.5%. With its domestic US market slowing, McDonald's is also accelerating its expansion plans overseas. Unveiling a 24% rise in first-quarter profits to $946m (£477m) last week, the company said it plans to invest $2bn this year and open 1,000 new outlets in countries including China and Russia. Shares in McDonald's have climbed more than 30% since the start of 2007.