Chain Store Guide’s 2012 Directory of Chain Restaurant Operators is at the printers now and will be published later this month, on April 17. The number of listings included in the directory is up to almost 6,400, including more than 800 new companies added since this time last year. The online database, which also includes convenience stores with in-store foodservice as well as casinos with two or more on-site restaurants, now exceeds 7,500 listings. Total personnel counts exceed 37,000, and 64% of these names have personal emails attached.

For 2011, sales from all U.S. headquarter companies were more than $225 billion, up from $214.5 billion in 2010. This 4.9% increase is somewhat ahead of the 4.1% increase the National Restaurant Association had projected for the year. Sales at the top 100 U.S. companies surged almost 6% year-over-year, reflecting the growing strength of the overall economy and the public’s willingness to begin to splurge a little.

Representative of the industry as a whole, the CSG Database of Chain Restaurant Operators is dominated by the small to mid-sized 4,750 companies that operate 50 or fewer locations – they account for 98% of the headquarter listings. However, their locations represent just 14% of the total locations and 30% of industry sales. In contract, the 40 largest companies (1,000 or more locations) account for 63% of all locations and 34% of industry sales.

Nearly a quarter of the U.S.-based companies report operating at least one location with hamburgers as the primary menu type, followed by 21% offering American food. Pizza comes in a somewhat distant third at 10%. However, at the individual restaurant level, hamburgers dominated at 25% of the locations followed by sandwiches at 17%. Not surprisingly, quick-serve restaurants were the predominant type of foodservice at both the HQ and location level, with 47% and 78% respectively.

As usual for this industry, mergers and acquisitions played a major role in shaping the dynamics of the business. Chain Store Guide tracked 44 such transactions since March 2011, involving more than 10,00 locations. In the last two years, 87 deals took place that represented nearly 34,000 restaurants changing ownership. The following represent the largest of the exchanges:

  •  Most notably, The Wendy’s/Arby’s Group sold its Arby’s brand to Roark Capital and renamed itself The Wendy’s Company, thereby nearly returning to where it was in 2008 when Wendy’s International was acquired by Triarc Companies, the parent of Arby’s. The company subsequently closed its Atlanta offices and transferred all corporate operations back to its base in Dublin, OH.
  • Yum! Brands sold its two smallest chains, Long John Silver’s and A&W All American Food, to private equity groups headed by long-time franchisees of the brands.
  • Tilman Fertitta, Chairman and CEO of Landry’s Restaurants, Fertitta Entertainment and other entities, has been on a buying spree in the past several years, acquiring Oceanaire, Claim Jumper, and Bubba Gump Shrimp companies in 2010 and Trump Marina Hotel and Casino, McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants, and Morton’s Steakhouse companies in 2011.
  • All of these ownership changes represent opportunities for real estate professionals, systems integrators, executive search firms, and others that do business in the foodservice industry.

Chain Store Guide continues to be the leader among information providers, allowing our customers unparalleled access to more companies and more data than any other company in the market. If you would like to see our data in action, please contact our office and request a free demonstration of our newly launched 2.0 Online databases.