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The top performing QSR companies: Profitability & Growth

Floris van der Pijl published on September 14, 2022

The food service industry was hit very hard by the outbreak of COVID-19. With governments imposing lockdowns and other restrictions, restaurants had to adapt and make changes overnight to still be able to serve customers. In our foodservice trendreport, we looked at the financial data of more than 250 foodservice companies worldwide. Let's zoom in on the top performing QSR companies in terms of growth and profitability.  

Fastest growing QSR companies

In our report, we examined the performance of the global QSR industry with recently updated data. Below you can see their performance based on net sales and growth development between 2017 - 2021.

# Company Net Sales 2021 % Growth
2020-2021

% Growth
2017-2021

1 Westlife Development $186,730,272 60.0% 57.0%
2 Wingstop $282,502,000 59.6% 83.4%
3 Shake Shack $739,893,000 41.5% 88.2%
4 Chipotle $754,706,100 26.0%

56.7%

1. Westlife Development (McDonald's India Franchise)

Westlife development Is the master franchisee for McDonald’s West- and South India. The company has benefitted from economic development, currently operating 326 restaurants and planning to add another 200 over the next three to five years.

2. Wingstop

Wingstop is a chicken QSR and has 1,900 restaurants and grown through opening new restaurants in the U.S., but has also set its eyes on international expansions.

3. Shake Shack

Shake Shack is an American fast food chain that mainly operates restaurants themselves (instead of franchising) and has a more premium positioning compared to traditional QSRs like McDonald’s. The company has opened 40 restaurants per year. 

4. Chiptole

Chipotle is a fast-casual restaurant focused on Mexican food. Its growth is mainly driven by restaurant openings in the US. In 2022 it opened 3,000 restaurants, of which the majority are company-owned and operated. With a goal of 7,000 North American restaurants, growth will likely continue.

Most profitable QSR companies

We also looked at the most profitable QSR companies of 2021 in our report by comparing the average EBIT profit margins in the years 2017-2021. All profited from the high level of franchising.

# Company % EBIT 2021

Average 2017-2021

1 McDonalds 42.5% 39.9%
2 Nathan's Famous 33.6% 27.9%
3 Restaurant Brands Int. 32.9% 35.6%
4 Yum! Brands 32.0% 30.9%
5 Wingstop 24.5% 23.8%

1. McDonald's

McDonald’s benefits from a high level of franchising allowing it to realize superior margins. McDonald’s realizes a gross profit of 80%+ on income from franchised restaurants while it earns 15-20% on company-operated restaurants.

2. Nathan's Famous

Nathan’s Famous started as a hot dog stand on Coney Island in 1916 is now a successful franchise and royalty company.

3. Restaurant Brands International (Burger King)

The same as McDonald’s Restaurant Brands International benefits from a high degree of franchising and realized an EBIT of 32.9% in 2021.

4. Yum! Brands (KFC)

Yum! Brands is a s an American fast-food corporation that operates KFC among others. Similar to Burger King and McDonald’s Yum!Brands benefits from the high level of franchising.  

5. Wingstop

Wingstop is a chicken QSR format that operates a franchising model in which it takes 5% of sales (up from 2021: 4%). The company is planning to increase the 1,900 restaurant locations to 7,000 through both domestic (4,000) and international growth (3,000), primarily in Asia (Indonesia and South Korea).

More on the Foodservice Industry

Want to find out more about the foodservice industry? In our foodservice trendreport we share the latest insights, trends, and developments on the performance of the industry and its top performers. Download the trendreport for free via the button below.Foodservice trendreport

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Floris van der Pijl

Associate / floris.van.der.pijl@a-insights.eu