Top 100 chains as a group added 4,259 U.S. units in the Latest Year, representing year-over-year growth of 2.3 percent, compared with 1.9 percent in the Preceding Year. That increase marked the chains’ best new store development performance in six years. The Latest Year also saw the end to a five-year decline in company-operated locations. The average growth rate in U.S. units remained flat at 3.1 percent in both the Latest and Preceding years, but more Top 100 chains added units in the Latest Year — 74, compared with 72 in the Preceding Year.
Below are five more facts of note about the latest results for the Top 100 U.S. Unit Growth Rates:
1. Firehouse Subs not only led the Latest-Year growth in U.S. units, but also excelled when year-over-year percentage changes for the Latest and Preceding Years were considered together, posting a 44.4-percent cumulative gain. In terms of two-year, cumulative percentage growth trends, the top five included Cheddar’s, 38 percent; Jersey Mike’s Subs, 37.3 percent; Yard House, 34 percent; and Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches, 32.9 percent.
2. Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar ranked fifth among Casual-Dining chains in Latest-Year percentage growth in U.S. units — trailing Yard House, Cheddar’s, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery and Bonefish Grill — but its net store output exceeded the combined tally of those rivals 94 to 65. Buffalo Wild Wings’ 10.6-percent growth was nearly three times greater than the Casual-Dining segment’s average of 3.6 percent.
3. Subway has been No. 1 in net new unit growth in six of the past 10 years. It was runner-up in the remaining four years, three times to Starbucks Coffee and once to contractor Canteen. The chain is currently in its fifth consecutive year as the unit growth leader, besting all Top 100 chains in the number of net new U.S. units, at 785 locations.
4. Church’s Chicken ended a three-year string of declines in domestic units in its Latest Year, increasing its store count 0.2 percent, or by a net 2 units, to 1,204 after earlier decreases of 1.2 percent in the Preceding Year and 2.7 percent in the Prior Year. Church’s — while off from the Chicken segment’s average growth rate of 3.3 percent — outperformed Boston Market and KFC, which posted a continued decline in units.
5. Quiznos Sub’s shrinking U.S. store base notably diminished the Top 100’s average rate of growth in net new units. The LSR/Sandwich chain’s 26.3- percent decline in Latest-Year units brought down the average rate of growth to 3.1 percent, compared with a 3.4-percent average among the other 99 chains. The average decline among chains that lost domestic units in the Latest Year was 3.4 percent with Quiznos factored in and 2.4 percent without it.