Technomic sees strong growth for top restaurant chains

by Eric Schroeder
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CHICAGO — The top 500 largest U.S. restaurant chains are predicted to grow at a rate of 2.3% over 2013, according to Technomic, a Chicago-based market research firm. The increase is slightly higher than the 2.1% growth rate from 2012 to 2013 and significantly higher than the 0.5% growth rate in 2009.

“Unit growth will continue to rise in both the full- and limited-service segments,” said Darren Tristano, executive vice-president at Technomic. “Fast-casual concepts still show high levels of unit growth, as do limited- and full-service Asian concepts.”

Technomic said that among full-service restaurant menu segments, Asian concepts will increase units by 5.1%, followed by seafood (3.9%) and steak (3.4%). Asian/noodle also leads the limited-service menu segments, increasing unit counts by 8%, while bakery cafes and coffee cafes will grow units by 5.2% and 4.2%, respectively, Technomic said.

In issuing its findings, Technomic said many full-service brands have positioned themselves to expand this past year. The largest growth has been at Buffalo Wild Wings, which will have added 65 units. Mellow Mushroom (32 units) and LongHorn Steakhouse (24 units) also grew. In limited service, Subway will add 908 units by year-end, followed by Starbucks (443), Jimmy Johns (350) and Dunkin’ Donuts (291).

As a whole, limited-service restaurants are expected to gain a sales bump of 3.5%. Fast-casual chains should see a 10.8% increase in sales, while quick-service chains will increase 2.3%, Technomic said.

Elsewhere, full-service restaurants are expected to experience 2.5% in 2014, nearly on par with the 2.4% increase in 2013. The fine dining category continues to show healthy growth and should increase sales by 5.8%, Technomic said, while gains in casual-dining and midscale restaurants will be 2.8% and 0.5%, respectively.

Technomic maintains Top 500 chain restaurant data in its Digital Resource Library (DRL). The DRL is an on-line platform delivering comprehensive operator intelligence.
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