McDonald’s sees money in a cup of tea

From Times Wire Services

McDonald’s Corp. said it would start selling sweetened iced tea, smoothies and bottled beverages to build on U.S. sales gains from specialty coffees.

The addition of the new beverages in the next two years would increase annual sales by $125,000 a restaurant, Donald Thompson, McDonald’s U.S. chief, said during a meeting with analysts. Average revenue per restaurant is $2.2 million a year.

“We call our iced-tea business money in a cup,” Karen King, eastern U.S. division chief, told analysts at McDonald’s headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill. She didn’t disclose profit margins for beverages.

McDonald’s increased U.S. coffee sales by 39% in the first nine months of 2007 after introducing a stronger blend in 2006. It has added cappuccinos and lattes to two-thirds of its 13,800 U.S. restaurants to tap growth in the $60-billion-a-year beverage market.