Top restaurant chains experience slower growth rate

by Staff
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CHICAGO — U.S. system-wide sales for the Top 500 U.S. restaurant chains rose to $223.6 billion in 2007, up $10.7 billion from 2006 numbers, according to a new report from Technomic, Inc.

The gains came despite a slower growth rate in 2007, with 5.1% annual sales growth during the year.

"As the U.S. economy continued to struggle against rising fuel prices, increasing cost of labor and commodities and menu price increases, the top 500 restaurant chains’ sales growth declined to 5.1% versus 6.1% in 2006," said Ron Paul, president of Technomic. "Current economic conditions have caused many chains to scale back their U.S. unit expansion with unit growth rates for 2007 of 2.4% compared with 3.8% a year ago."

The top 10 fastest growing chains with sales or more than $200 million were Qdoba Mexican Grill, Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwich Shop, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, Bonefish Grill, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Starbucks, Caribou Coffee, and Zaxby’s.

There was significant growth in the limited-service beverage, bakery cafe and chicken categories, and Starbucks, Panera Bread and Chick-fil-A had double-digit growth. McDonald’s grew 6.1% with sales of more than $28.7 billion. Subway dominated the sandwich segment with 6.4% sales growth and sales of $8.2 billion.

Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers used to be ranked third on the list, but the fast food chain has fallen to fifth behind Starbucks (ranked third) and Subway (ranked fourth).

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