McDonald's president and CEO Don Thompson will retire on 1 March after 25 years at the company.
He will be replaced by Steve Easterbrook, who steps up from his role as senior executive vice president and chief brand officer of the company.
Easterbrook, who also takes a seat at the board of directors, has led McDonald's efforts to elevate its marketing, advance menu innovation and create an infrastructure for its digital initiatives.
He previously served in key leadership roles across the company's global business, including president of McDonald's Europe.
"Steve is a strong and experienced executive who successfully led our UK and European business units and the Board is confident that he can effectively lead the Company to improved financial and operational performance," said Andrew McKenna, non-executive chairman of the Board of Directors.
Thompson's retirement comes after McDonald's was plagued by food safety crises and its announcement of rebranding plans last year.
Last Friday, the company also announced that its global comparable sales last year dropped by 1%. Its fourth quarter comparable sales decreased by 4.8% in Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, with operating income falling by 44%.
Also effective on 1 March, Pete Bensen, senior executive VP and CFO will be promoted to the newly created role of chief administrative officer and report to Easterbrook. Bensen's role will be filled by Kevin Ozan, currently senior VP and corporate controller.
"These management changes are aimed at speeding the company's movement to its next phase of innovation and growth," McKenna added.