Top 100 U.K. Chain Restaurants Continue to Increase Sales and Units

The 100 largest U.K. restaurant chains recorded a 6 percent annual sales increase in 2014, compared to 6.4 percent the prior year. According to data released by Technomic Inc. in its annual reporting on the top U.K. restaurant chains, the number of units grew by more than 4.3 percent in 2014, compared to unit growth of 4 percent the previous year.

Leading chains continue to expand at a fast pace, providing strong sales performance and creating a more competitive environment. Ultimately, smaller, regional chain growth provide more options to consumers and greater access to broader tastes.

As a whole, limited-service restaurants among the Top 100 saw a sales revenue increase of 5.9 percent. Among limited-service restaurants, the menu categories with the largest percentage growth were coffee shops (11.6 percent), sandwich (9.1 percent), and Italian/pizza (7.8 percent).

Full-service restaurants also experienced a healthy growth year in 2014 with an increase of 6.1 percent in sales. The bar and grill cluster lead the way in percentage growth (13.5 percent), followed by Asian (10.6 percent), and French (9.4 percent).

The chain with the largest sales increase was Costa (up £161 million), followed by Wetherspoon (£109 million), and Domino’s (£84million). Similarly, the brands that grew the most in units were Costa (176 units), Subway (155 units), and Domino’s (40 units).

Looking at the restaurant industry as a whole, Technomic’s research sheds light onto actionable insights to help operators and suppliers. Key themes of 2014 include:

  • On-the-go meals appeal to hurried customers: full-service operators can capitalize on this trend by offering express lunches and expanded takeaway service.
  • Ethnic flavours make an impression: operators who keep menus fresh with the addition of global flavours can attract and retain customers.
  • Menus trend toward simpler, streamlined formats: menus have shrunk 2.6 percent in a year-over-year comparison. Smaller menus can illustrate quality over quantity.
  • Fresh and local ingredients are vital: customers appreciate the effort and feel a connection to operators who keep things fresh and sourced in the U.K. when possible.
  • Sales surge at burger concepts: the versatility of burgers is driving the growth, from simpler, premium options to over-the-top indulgence.
  • For more trends contact Darren Tristano

The 2015 Technomic Top 100 U.K. Chain Restaurant Report details the Top 100 U.K. chains with segment breakdowns, emerging trends, key themes, and forecasted outlook and opportunities, as well as a side-by-side comparison of the Top 100 U.K. chains and the Top 500 U.S. chain restaurants from the 2015 Top 500 U.S. Chain Restaurant Report.



Darren Tristano

Darren Tristano is President of Technomic Inc. Since 1993, he has led the development of Technomic’s Information Services division and directed multiple aspects of the firm’s operations.

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