Giants Stumble for First Time in Exclusive Franchise Times Ranking

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No. 1 McDonald's, No. 3 Subway post declines, according to Top 200+ list as smaller brands take up slack, including Anytime Fitness, up 52%, and Dickey's, up 48%. New online database launches today, listing all 500 franchised brands ranked by worldwide sales.

For the first time since the Franchise Times Top 200+ list began in 1999, some of the very largest brands in franchising showed year-over-year sales declines or surprisingly soft growth given the ongoing narrative of economic recovery in the United States, according to this year’s exclusive ranking by Franchise Times.

Smaller brands took up the slack, with the three fastest growers increasing sales by a remarkable 52 percent (Anytime Fitness), 48 percent (Dickey’s Barbecue) and 40 percent (Marco’s Pizza).

In all, the largest 200 U.S.-based franchise systems posted $595.9 billion in worldwide sales in 2014, up 2.1 percent from the prior year, according to the Franchise Times Top 200+. They operated 480,397 units total, a 3.3 percent increase from the year before.

The new report is published in the October issue of Franchise Times, and also available in a searchable online database launched today (http://www.franchisetimes.com/Top-200/), which lists all 500 of the largest U.S.-based franchises.

Sales at McDonald’s fell 1.5 percent in 2014, Subway dropped a worrisome 3.2 percent and the top 10 brands taken as a whole only increased their sales by 0.6 percent, the Franchise Times Top 200+ reports. While the reasons appear to be brand specific, rather than some industry trend, they point to a significant change in the franchising status quo.

By contrast, some smaller brands posted stunning sales growth, led by Anytime Fitness, with revenue up 52.6 percent, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit up 48.3 percent and Marco’s Pizza up 40.5 percent. The new report includes the top 10 fast- est-growing franchises by worldwide sales and number of units. (See details below.)

“Like a space shuttle’s heat shield, the industry’s leading edge is bearing the friction for an industry that remains in an opportunistic growth spurt fueled by economic growth at home, continued international expansion, and renewed inter- est from private equity firms and Wall Street,” according to the lead story in the project, authored by Franchise Times Assistant Editor Tom Kaiser.

The top 200’s 2.1 percent sales increase in 2014 was slimmer than in previous years; that number was 2.9 percent in 2013, 5.6 percent in 2012 and a roaring 8.8 percent in 2011. The top 200 increased its unit count by 3.3 percent in 2014, numbers that were 3.4, 3.9 and 4.3 percent in the previous three years.

With no change in the ranking of the five largest franchises—in order, McDonald’s, 7-Eleven, KFC, Subway and Burger King—both McDonald’s and Subway have broken their timeworn winning streaks. Burger King posted a satisfy- ing 5.5 percent sales increase, and Ace Hardware (up 9.7 percent) and Marriott Hotels (up 8.2 percent) also ran counter to the trend of disappointing results in the top 10. (See full details below.)

The Franchise Times Top 200+ also analyzes 12 industry sectors and reports which brands are rising and falling in each category, and why. For example, key investments in research led to a 16 percent increase in sales at Right at Home, the biggest gainer in the senior services category, Franchise Times reports. Industry breakouts include four restaurant categories, plus hotel and travel, personal services, printing and shipping, and more.

“The Franchise Times Top 200+ gives an extensive, detailed analysis of who’s rising and falling in franchising,” says Beth Ewen, managing editor of Franchise Times. “But more important to our readers, we dig in to report why— what’s behind the numbers, and which CEOs are making the smartest decisions for their brands. It’s a rich and unique source of information for anyone doing business in franchising.”

Franchise Times Top 10 Franchises by Worldwide Sales
1. McDonald’s: $87.8 billion sales, -1.5% from prior year; 36,258 units, 2.3%
2. 7-Eleven: $85 billion* sales, 0%; 55,801 units, 3.6%
3. KFC: $23.4 billion* sales, 1.7%; 19,420 units, 2.9%
4. Subway: $18.2 billion sales, -3.2%; 43,154 units, 2.0%
5. Burger King: $17 billion sales, 4.4%; 14,372 units, 5.2%
6. Ace Hardware: $14.3 billion sales, 9.7%; 4,794 units, -0.7%
7. Hertz: $14.2 billion* sales, 2.2%; 11,230 units, -2.8%
8. Pizza Hut: $12.2 billion* sales, 1.7%; 15,605 units, 4.3%
9. Marriott Hotels: $9.6 billion* sales, 8.2%; 578 units, 3.4%
10. Wendy’s: $9.3 billion* sales, -1.1%; 6,515 units, -0.6%
*Franchise Times estimate

Franchise Times Top 10 Fastest Growers by Sales
1. Anytime Fitness: 52.6% increase from prior year
2. Dickey’s Barbecue Pit: 48.3%
3. Marco’s Pizza: 40.5%
4. Planet Fitness: 34.7%
5. Paul Davis Restoration: 30.7%
6. Jersey Mike’s Subs: 29.3%
7. G.J. Gardner Homes: 25.8%
8. Matco Tools: 25.4%
9. Snap Fitness: 25.4%
10. Firehouse Subs: 24.7%

Franchise Times Top 10 Fastest Growers by Units
1. Paul Davis Restoration: 31.5% increase from prior year
2. Marco’s Pizza: 30.9%
3. Dickey’s Barbecue Pit: 30.8%
4. Planet Fitness: 22.6%
5. Right At Home: 22.3%
6. Jersey Mike’s Subs: 20.2%
7. Krispy Kreme: 19.2%
8. Sport Clips: 17.7%
9. Firehouse Subs: 17.6%
10. Jimmy John’s: 17.0%

About the Franchise Times Top 200+
The Franchise Times Top 200+ is the only ranking by worldwide revenue and locations of the largest 500 U.S.-based franchise brands. Published in the October issue, the Franchise Times Top 200+ also analyzes 12 industry sectors based on percentage change in sales growth, reports the 10 fastest-growing franchises by four different measures, and includes little-known stories about the biggest names in franchising. The rankings and full report, and the new searchable online database, are available at http://www.franchisetimes.com.

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Tom Kaiser
Franchise Times
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