US fastfood giant McDonald's has said it is off to a good start in 2005 with global systemwide sales for McDonald's restaurants rising 8.3% in January.

In constant currencies the sales rise was 6.3% compared to January 2004. Comparable sales for McDonald's restaurants worldwide increased 5.2%. Comparable sales increased 4.1% in the US and 5.4% in Europe against tough prior year comparisons of 13.4% and 6.5%, respectively.

"Our performance in the US continues to reflect the vitality of our menu, service and marketing initiatives along with our strategic focus on delivering an exceptional customer experience," said CEO Jim Skinner.

"Europe's January systemwide sales rose 11.6%, 6.9% in constant currencies, reflecting strong contributions from Germany's reenergised everyday value menu along with additional strategic value activities in Germany and the UK aimed at driving customer traffic," he added.

"While I am encouraged by January's results, we must continue to make progress to strengthen our European business. We are focused on enhancing our performance across the region through relevant menu offerings, targeted marketing and improved operations, with emphasis on service," Skinner said.

Systemwide sales include sales at all McDonald's restaurants, including those operated by the company, franchisees and affiliates. Comparable sales represent sales at all McDonald's restaurants in operation at least thirteen months, excluding the impact of currency translation.