OAK BROOK, Illinois: McDonald's, the fast-food restaurant chain, is planning to open 240 new outlets this year across Europe, creating 12,000 new jobs, as the company's low-priced menu boosts customer numbers during the credit crunch.

The new restaurants will be opened in countries including France, Italy, Poland, Russia, Spain and Russia, requiring around 50 members of staff each.

Having focused on growth from existing outlets since 2003, McDonald's European president, Denis Hennequin, says the company will be expanding during the downturn, adding: "We're certainly not slowing down."

Its other plans for the near future include introducing McCafés – coffee shops sited within its restaurants – in 400 European sites, taking the total number on the continent to over 1,000.

Alongside introducing healthier menu options and redesigning the interior of its restaurants, analysts argue McDonald's has been boosted by consumers looking for cheaper dining options as the credit crunch restricts spending.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff