Costa, Wetherspoon and Domino’s have been named the big revenue winners after new data revealed that the 100 largest restaurant chains in the UK recorded a 6% increase in turnover last year.
Research firm Technomic, which published the figures, said the growth was actually a slight decrease on the 6.4% expansion recorded the previous year, despite the number of units expanding by 4.3% in 2014 versus 4% the year before.
“Leading chains continue to expand at a fast pace, providing strong sales performance and creating a more competitive environment,” stated Darren Tristano, senior managing director of Technomic. “Ultimately, smaller, regional chain growth provides more options to consumers and greater access to broader tastes.”
As a whole, limited-service restaurants among the Top 100 saw a revenue increase of 5.9%. Among limited-service restaurants, the menu categories with the largest percentage growth were coffee shops (11.6%), sandwich (9.1%), and Italian/pizza (7.8%).
Full-service restaurants also experienced a healthy growth year in 2014 with an increase of 6.1% in sales. The bar and grill cluster lead the way in percentage growth (13.5%), followed by Asian (10.6%), and French (9.4%).
The chain with the largest sales increase was Costa (up £161m), followed by Wetherspoon (£109m) and Domino’s (£84m).
Similarly, the brands that grew the most in units were Costa (176 units), Subway (155 units) and Domino’s (40 units).
Technomic added that a number of key themes have shaped events over the past year, including full-service operators capitalising on demand for on-the-go meals by offering express lunches and expanded takeaway service.
Ethnic flavours have made an impression, too, with the top operators keeping menus fresh with the addition of global flavours to attract and retain customers. The company also noted that menus have shrunk 2.6% on the previous year in a move towards simpler, streamlined formats.