America's #1 Franchise Directory, Trusted for Over 15 Years

Top 100 Global Franchises 2012 - Overview

Making this year’s rankings was tougher than it ever has been in the ranking’s four year history due to not only market conditions, but a larger pool of candidates. Because of this enhanced competition, the companies that make up the top 10 are truly at the top of their game.


 Table 1: The Top 10

Franchise 2012 Rank Country of Origin Industry/Category
SUBWAY 1 USA Food Franchises
McDonald's 2 USA Food Franchises
KFC 3 USA Food Franchises
7-Eleven 4 USA Convenience Store Franchises
Burger King 5 USA Food Franchises
Pizza Hut 6 USA Food Franchises
Wyndham Hotel Group 7 USA Hotel Franchises
Ace Hardware Corporation 8 USA Home Improvement Franchises
Dunkin' Donuts 9 USA Food Franchises
Hertz 10 USA Car Rental Franchises


Top 100 Global Franchises - Tree Map Charts

Top 100 Global Franchises - Interactive Chart 1The treemap chart displays the magnitude of each industry. (Click on treemap to view in full size.)

Top 100 Global Franchise - Interactive Chart 2This treemap chart displays the number of countries in which each of the Top 100 franchises operates in. (Click on treemap to view in full size.)

Subway Remains on Toptop100globalfranchise-1

Like last year, Subway was again able to narrowly edge out the burger behemoth that is McDonald’s for the top spot. And our rankings aren’t the only place Subway is garnering accolades.

Subway received top-marks in the categories of Healthy Options, Most Popular and Top Service in the 2011 Zagat Fast-Food Survey among the Mega Chains. It was actually the third year in-a-row that the restaurant had been so honored by the highly-respected consumer survey-based information provider. Subway was also named the 2011 recipient of the MenuMasters award by Nation’s Restaurant News magazine in the “Healthful Innovations” category.

In addition, the incredible growth rate that saw Subway overtake McDonald’s a year ago on our rankings hasn’t slowed. Subway opened well over 2,000 restaurants worldwide in 2011, including 1,000 new locations in the U.S. and Canada alone. The U.S. and Canada openings resulted in approximately 21,000 new jobs – not including related areas that typically receive a boost from new restaurant openings like construction, logistics, equipment manufacturing, food processing and maintenance.3

McDonald’s Comes up Short for a Second Year

McDonald’s came up just short of the top spot in our ranking again this year despite astronomical revenue and its continuing efforts in improving the nutrition and sustainability of its offerings.

Second, But Not Second-Rate: McDonald’s is the Rolls Royce of franchising. Ray Kroc did an amazing job getting everything system-based, and every other franchisor on the planet would do well in watching how today’s McDonald’s grows and markets their brand. ~ Joel Libava, “The Franchise King,” Independent Franchise Industry Insider

Throughout its history, McDonald’s has had to fend off public concern about the health content of its food, as well as the production methods it uses to bring food to the masses. But McDonald’s, to its credit, has been active – particularly in recent years – in improving its products and processes. Despite the negative press, consumers continue to flock to McDonald’s in droves. In fact, McDonald’s received top marks in several categories in the 2011 Zagat Fast-Food Survey, taking top honors in six categories including Top Facilities (for Mega Chains), Best Value, and Most Child-Friendly.4

top100globalfranchise-1Its corporate strategy, dubbed “Plan to Win,” has been in effect for nearly a decade. Under the strategy, McDonald’s has grown in spite of volatile financial markets and other obstacles. Expansion will take McDonald’s to one of the most beautiful locales in the world later this year, when it’s expected the company will open a restaurant in a shopping area beneath the Louvre in Paris. Though McDonald’s has been operating in France for some time, the opening is notable because of past resistance to the company from some residents within France, which at times turned violent.5 


Hertz (#10): The largest general use car rental brand in the world has made a concerted effort over the past year to expand its franchise network, especially in the United States. The car rental unit of Hertz Corporation is one branch of the mega organization that includes truck & van rental, equipment rental, car sales and other ventures.

A Strong Sector: My previous career was in automotive franchising, so I know the aftermarket segment well. Great-looking used cars bring increased profits. Automotive franchises that understand this, and use services like Color Glo, will win every time. Consumers pay more for vehicles that look pristine! Even though the used car market fluctuates with the ebb and flow of the economy, (in any country) used cars will always sell. I see continued growth in the aftermarket services vehicle sector. ~ Joel Libava, “The Franchise King,”

Yves Rocher (#40): France-based Yves Rocher specializes in botanical beauty products. The brand prides itself on being environmentally-friendly before the concept became in vogue. Its “Botanical Beauty” method employed for over 50 years is based on five principles that include basing company behavior on the plant world as the only source of inspiration while protecting and defending the environment.

Denny’s (#53):  In recent years, the family dining chain has ramped up their franchise development efforts, with the opening of more domestic units than ever before in its history in the year 2010. In the 1980s Denny’s put its international franchise program on hiatus. However, in 2011 the restaurant chain reactivated the program and has agreements in Central America and is looking at additional opportunities worldwide.

Almeida Viajes (#73): The Spanish travel agency is flourishing in an industry that some at first glance would believe it to be difficult to sustain success in, especially considering the recent economic climate around the world. The company, since opening in 2004, has grown to over 400 locations in four countries (Spain, Portugal, Mexico and Brazil), and has plans to enter even more markets in 2012, including Argentina.

Johnny Rockets (#83): Johnny Rockets believes that combining the best elements from a century of American dining history to create an experience and menu that are relevant today and into the future. Utilizing its stylized version of Americana, the restaurant chain – which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year - aims to relate the “best concepts of America, around the globe” through classic comfort foods, outgoing service, and a bright, clean, cheerful atmosphere.

Color Glo (#90): Color Glo specializes in a niche portion of the aftermarket automotive industry: interior reconditioning. The company works with new and used auto dealers, body shops, upholsterers and individual vehicle owners as an alternative to replacing interior components that have been damaged. Over its existence, the company has branched out from performing services on just cars to reconditioning materials in aviation, marine, residential and other commercial areas.

Non-US Companies in the Top 100top100globalfranchise-1

It’s no surprise that most of the Top 100 comprises U.S.-based companies considering the strong tradition of franchising in the United States. However, the concept has been steadily increasing in popularity around the world, evidenced by the number of companies present in the ranking that started outside of the U.S.

Table 2: non-US companies in the Top 100

Franchise 2012 Rank Country of Origin Industry/Category
InterContinental Hotel Group 13 UK Hotel Franchises
Kumon 18 Japan Child Education Franchises
Tim Hortons 20 Canada Food Franchises
Dia 25 Spain Food Franchises
Europcar 28 France Car Rental Franchises
Yogen Fruz 38 Canada Food Franchises
Yves Rocher 40 France Retail Franchises
Cartridge World 46 Australia Computer Franchises
ActionCOACH 50 Australia Business Consulting Services
H&R Block 52 Canada Accounting & Financial Franchises
Naturhouse 62 Spain Food Franchises
WSI 68 Canada Internet Franchises
Almeida Viajes 73 Spain Travel Franchises
The Pita Pit 80 Canada Food Franchises
Coffee News 91 Canada Advertising & Marketing Franchises
Pirtek 95 Australia Maintenance Services



Close But Not Quite

Even though they didn’t technically make the Top 100, these franchise systems are still great representations of how a company can grow into a successful international operation. And who knows, maybe next year one or more of these companies will be crack the Top 100.


Franchise Country of Origin Industry/Category
PostNet USA Printer, Copying & Sign Franchises
Bark Busters Australia Pet Franchises
Schlotzsky’s USA Food Franchises
The Athlete's Foot USA Retail Franchises
Home Instead USA Senior Care Franchises
Engel & Völkers Germany Real Estate Franchises
Maaco USA Automotive Franchises
Smoothie King USA Food Franchises
Tutor Doctor Canada Child Education Franchises
Heaven's Best USA Cleaning Franchises



Previous   Next

Your Request List

You can add items by clicking the "Add to Request List" button or checkbox when you find something you're interested in.

You may add up to 15 items to your Request List

Your request list will follow you around the site.

When you are ready to complete your request for free information, click "Submit" in your Request List.

Why not get started by browsing our New Franchise Opportunities or Low Cost Franchise Directory?

You may only enter 15 items in your Request List.

To request information from your selected companies, just fill in the form and click "Submit".

OK, got it

Request Info From:


Your List is Empty

You can add items by checking the "Request FREE Info" boxes.

* indicates required field

Optional Information

Join our mailing list!

We share your information only with your selected franchises.