Just before the Nation’s Restaurant News team put the finishing touches on our first study ranking the sales of the largest non-U.S.-based brands and companies, I had coincidentally been in Paris taking note of the foodservice brands dotting the streets of the City of Light.
One that piqued my interest was Quick, a Berchem, Belgium-based quick-service chain of 475 locations and eye-catching advertisements promoting its summertime LTO — Le BBQ Beach Burger. Posters throughout the city showed a huge succulent burger held aloft by three good-looking shirtless lads. The Quick outlets we passed were colorful and inviting and seemed busy — or at least they appeared to be until we passed by a McDonald’s on the Champs-Élysées.
According to Rick Steves, the oracle of European travel — seriously, you see his book in almost every tourist’s hand — the Champs-Élysées McDonald’s is the chain’s highest-grossing location. The line of customers extended well onto the broad sidewalk in front of the store, an irrefutable symbol of the power U.S. foodservice brands wield around the globe.
That’s exactly what we found in compiling the International Top 25, our inaugural census of the world’s largest foodservice brands and companies, debuting in this issue. The Top 25 U.S. and Canadian retail foodservice companies, when measured by the worldwide systemwide sales of their proprietary concepts, posted latest completed fiscal year sales of $264.94 billion — some four times the total of their overseas rivals.
That’s just one of the findings included in this issue’s special report. After 39 years of tracking the domestic foodservice powerhouses in our annual Top 100 project and a shorter span of time doing likewise for the Second 100, we decided to focus our numbers-crunching and ranking expertise on restaurant chains around the rest of the globe.
The project, led again by our Top 200 guru Alan J. Liddle, managing editor of special projects, was compiled with the help of Michael Schaefer, head of consumer foodservice research for Euromonitor International, a leading provider of global business intelligence and strategic market analysis.
In addition to featuring lists that rank the Top 25 global brands and companies, the study provides an in-depth look at international growth trends and explores the foodservice forces of six global regions: Asia-Pacific, Australia-New Zealand, Latin America, Middle East-Africa, North America and Western Europe.
Within each of those regions, we offer such vital statistics as systemwide sales and unit counts of the top five competitors as well as insights into the players and developments influencing the region’s foodservice landscape. We’re proud to deliver such competitive intelligence to those of you already circumnavigating the globe as well as those still weighing your opportunities.
Back on American soil we explore the new phenomenon of restaurant incubators, or enterprises designed to help operators get their fledgling concepts off the ground with funding and infrastructure. That story, which includes a visit with restaurant impresario Phil Romano at his multiacre incubator in Dallas, begins on page 1 and continues in the Business Intel section.
In the Operations section, columnist John Barone expresses concerns about the looming threat from skyrocketing commodity costs, while in Marketing we examine the prices that make customers feel they are getting good value for their money — perceptions that will remain paramount as the economy continues to wallow in the summer doldrums.
On a brighter note, in Food & Beverage we look at how chefs are unleashing their creativity on lobster given the glut caused by an earlier-than-usual migration of the crustaceans along the New England coast. While the surplus unfortunately has not been kind to the fishermen who harvest the critters, it has been wonderful for those of us who enjoy their sweet meat at restaurants across the foodservice horizon.
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