The restaurant industry’s royal line of succession has shifted, with Wendy’s usurping Burger King as the second-largest sales-getter behind McDonald’s.
In its annual ranking of U.S. restaurants, research group Technomic Inc. placed McDonald’s – with its 5.5% boost to $34.2 billion in annual sales – first among the 500 largest eatery chains in the country.
Next came Subway, which grew 7.5% over the year and then Starbuck’s, whose sales spiked the same percentage. Wendy’s placed fourth, with $8.5 billion in sales, followed by Burger King’s $8.4 billion.
Burger King's restaurant count still far outstrips Wendy’s.
Both companies have undergone identity crises in recent years, with product revamps, management shuffles and marketing shakeups.
Overall, Technomic said restaurant sales were up 3.4% in 2011, compared with a paltry-by-comparison 1.8% boost the previous year. In dollars, that’s a $242 billion haul, up more than $8 billion from 2010. Technomic’s figures reflect sales from company-owned and franchised establishments but don’t reflect corporate revenue.
International markets were more favorable than domestic customers, with sales abroad up 6.4% compared with 3.4% in the U.S. Food service companies such as Yum Brands, which owns KFC and Taco Bell, have recently pushed heavily abroad into countries such as China, where a growing base of customers hungers for American-style fast food.