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Top 10 Global Fast Food Franchises of 2014

The first quarter of 2014 was largely positive in terms of earnings for the top 10 fast food franchises of the Top 100 Global Franchises Ranking. Seven of the nine franchises that are part of a public company reported sales increases over the same period in 2013. (Subway is the only one of these franchises owned by a private company.) Most of the sales increases were between 2% and 4.5%. Domino’s was the outlier with a sales increase of 9%.


On the other hand, Wendy’s reported a significant decrease in sales revenue, which it attributed to the sale or closure of Wendy's company-owned restaurants under its system optimization initiative. McDonald’s is the other franchise that showed a decrease in sales. More on McDonald’s later.


In terms of the 2014 Top 100 ranking, it’s no surprise that all 10 franchises are in the top 30 of the report overall. They are some of the largest business networks in the world. They average nearly 16,000 units a piece. Subway is the largest with over 40,000 units operating worldwide. Only four have less than 10,000 units: Burger King, Baskin’ Robbins, Taco Bell and Wendy’s.



2014 Top 100 Rank

Estimated Number of Units (as of May 2014)










Burger King



Pizza Hut



Dunkin’ Donuts









Taco Bell







In addition, these 10 food franchises are also some of the most established business operations on Earth with an average age of 57.3. KFC is the longest running at 75 years, and Wendy’s is the young one of the group at 45 years running.


 Number of Years in Operation

Number of Years in Operation

With that kind of longevity and scale, these franchises possess a high level of brand equity. Wherever you are in the world, when you see the sign for one of these franchises the odds are very good you immediately have an idea of what to expect. That consistency isn’t just a function of age, however. It also is a result of the franchise model which prominently features replication.


While McDonald’s is the traditional standard for food franchises, it hasn’t been smooth sailing for the burger chain recently as mentioned above. While it showed a slight revenue uptick, the first quarter of 2014 saw profits drop 1.7% in the United States and 5% overall.


And other fast food chains, sensing an opening, are starting to publically attack. Taco Bell is probably the most vocal in taking on McDonald’s. The company recently launched a commercial with people actually named Ronald McDonald proclaiming their love for Taco Bell’s new breakfast menu items over their pseudo-namesake.


But McDonald’s isn’t standing still in its quest to regain fast food supremacy. The company just gave its longtime character Ronald McDonald a new, Broadway-inspired makeover for his social media debut. The company is hoping to deepen their engagement with customers and bring them back into their restaurants at a higher frequency. McDonald’s locations are also in the midst of renovation projects that include design elements such as updated in-store graphics and new furniture.


The Top 100 Global Franchises Ranking is an annual look at the top operating franchises in the world. To be eligible, franchises must have units in operation in at least two countries. The full Top 100 Ranking can be viewed here. To see the Top 100 Report with an overview of all the franchises plus trends and things to watch, click here.

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