Foodservice Equipment Reports

Fast-Casual Chains Continue To Drive Growth In Technomic 500

Technomic Inc. has released its full 2014 Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report, and fast-casual chains once again led growth. Sales for Top 500 chains identified as fast casual increased sales 11% in 2013 on a nearly 8% gain in net units. Market leaders Panera Bread, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panda Express posted sales gains of 12%, 17% and 11% respectively.

Technomic Executive V.P. Darren Tristano said observers should “watch for even more menu and concept diversity in this sector.” He noted that while bakery café concepts are still doing well, unit expansion is now more likely to happen in burger, Mexican, other sandwich and specialty concepts, diversifying the fast-casual landscape. Also, several major QSR chains are experimenting with fast-casual concepts.

Last year was one of moderate growth for both Top 500 chains and the industry as a whole. A slowdown in sales growth for McDonald’s and several other large quick-service chains held down overall growth rates. Limited- service Top 500 chains, which include the fast-growing fast-casual concepts, posted combined sales growth of only 3.8% on a net unit gain of 2.2%. Full-service Top 500 chains grew sales 2.4% last year on a 2.1% unit gain. This is the second year in a row in which all full-service restaurants, which includes independents and smaller chains, grew sales faster than the Top 500 full-service chains. All full service grew 2.8%.

The complete Top 500 report is available at

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