THE golden arches of McDonald’s are never far away. It’s a staple of our High Streets and retail parks.

Now an independent report released to mark McDonald’s 40th birthday shows just how much of a contribution the retail giant makes to the Essex economy.

There are 36 restaurants in Essex, employing 3,890 people and contributing a staggering £71.1million to the county’s economy.

McDonald’s opened its first Essex fast-food restaurant on Southend High Street in July 1978. There are now four in the town, employing more than 290 people.

Southend franchisee, Mark Bartrip, started working for the company in 1978 and now runs and owns four restaurants across Southend.

His restaurants alone contribute £5million to the south Essex economy every year.

He said: “I’ve lived in Southend for more than 40 years so it’s important for me to be able to invest in the area and provide a significant number of jobs to local people.

“I am firm a believer you need to be part of a community to be successful in that community.

So I am passionate about giving young people the chance to get workplace experience.”

Mr Bartrip added: “We have a fantastic education programme, meaning all my staff – from someone starting out in their first job to a restaurant manager – has the chance to learn while they earn.

“My ambition is to continue the great work my teams are already doing, from daily litter patrols to supporting larger scale litter events for many more years to come.”

Paul Dickinson, 42, works as an area supervisor across Mr Bartip’s restaurants in Southend.

He said: “I first joined McDonald’s part-time 26 years ago while still at sixth form.

I’ve since completed a number of different training courses worked my way up to a senior management position.

“One of the things I love about my job is the fact no two days are ever the same.

“I also get real satisfaction from seeing people I have trained progress through the business. It feels great to be able to give young people the same opportunities I got to work their way up.”

The business and its suppliers also boost the Castle Point, Rayleigh and Basildon economy.

Franchisee, Peter Tassell’s four restaurants contribute £5million to the local economy and he employs more than 370 people.

He said: “Creating and sustaining jobs in the local area is of huge importance to me, and the fact we have been able to make a significant financial contribution to the area is something my team and I are very proud of.

“We employ people based on their qualities, not their qualifications.

But, as the worlds of business and education move closer, there’s no longer a need to decide between learning and earning.

“As such, I’m thrilled to be able to offer all my employees the chance to gain on-the-job qualifications – be it an apprenticeship or a foundation degree in managing business operations for restaurant managers.

“As a member of the Castle Point community, I’m dedicated to continuing the work my teams are already doing, from sponsoring grassroots football teams such as Canvey Island and Bowers and Pitsea FCs, through to organising community litter picking events.”

The Serving the UK: McDonald’s at 40 Report was researched by Development Economics to assess the overall contribution McDonald’s has made to the UK economy, local communities, its employees, customers and suppliers since it first started operating in the UK in November 1974.

The report finds that overall the business and its supply chain is estimated to be worth £2.5billion annually to the UK economy. It estimates that over the past 40 years, the company’s total economic contribution is £40billion.

Today, McDonald’s offers all employees nationally-recognised qualifications as a benefit of working for the firm.

Employees have the opportunity to gain a range of nationally-recognised qualifications, from adult certificates in maths and English to apprenticeships and a foundation degree