Illinois, US (BBN)-US fast-food giant McDonald’s said it would sell all of its 413 stores in Taiwan to a franchise operator as part of a plan to turn around the retailer.

The sale would end over three decades of company-owned stores on the island where it has 20,000 employees, reports BBC.

McDonald’s said it would search for “suitable candidates” to become its developmental licensee.

The world’s largest fast-food chain has struggled to hold on to customers amid stiff competition.

Chief executive Steve Easterbrook said in May the firm would increase its number of franchised restaurants globally.

Last week, the chain also said that it would have fewer restaurants in the US this year than it did last year, after announcing in April the closure of 350 restaurants globally.

The company’s comparable sales at restaurants open at least 13 months fell 2.3 per cent in the first three months of the year.

Its Asian business has also been hit by food safety scares in China last year over tainted meat.