Foodservice Equipment Reports

Unit Growth Picking Up Among Top 500 Chains, Technomic Says

Technomic Inc. says unit growth is picking up somewhat among the largest U.S. chains. The Chicago-based foodservice research firm forecasts that the 500 largest chain brands will grow net units 2.3% in 2014. The rate is slightly higher than the 2.1% rate posted in both 2012 and 2013 and represents significantly stronger growth than the 0.5% unit increase seen at the depths of the recession in 2009.

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

In the full-service segment, Asian concepts are expected to grow net units by 5.1% in 2014, with full-service seafood concepts increasing unit counts by 3.9% and steak concepts growing units by 3.4%. Limited-service Asian/noodle chains are adding units at an 8% clip, with bakery cafes and coffee cafes growing units at 5.2% and 4.2%, respectively.

As a whole, limited-service concepts are forecast to grow sales 3.5% this year, led by fast-casual concepts with an expected 10.8% sales gain. In contrast, traditional quick-service chains are only forecast to grow sales 2.3%. Full-service concepts are forecast to grow sales 2.5% this year, only slightly above the 2.4% gain of 2013.

Information on Technomic research, including the firm’s annual Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report and its Digital Resource Library that tracks 3,500 chain concepts, is available at

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