Global burger purveyor McDonald's is following up its successful Chinese operations with a move into franchising.

The fast food giant currently owns and runs all its 595 outlets in China and expects to franchise twelve restaurants by 2006. It plans to have a total 1,000 outlets in the country by the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Anyone wanting to buy into the McDonald's dream will need to invest up to $390,000 (€301k, £209k), but the return is likely to be high as China's fast food market is currently worth $48 billion.

Under the system McDonald's shifts costs including rent and salaries to restaurant operators and charges franchisees to use its brand and operational methodology.

The company is adopting a slow but steady approach and is currently interviewing around twenty applicants.

Says James Kramer, vp of international franchising: "It takes us so long to find the right people, screen, train and strike business deals. It's not possible for us to find the qualified people so fast to have a huge impact.''

Data sourced from People's Daily Online; additional content by WARC staff