The 100 leading United Kingdom restaurant chains registered a 5.6 percent annual turnover increase in 2011, a sharp improvement over 2.6 percent the prior year. According to data released  by Technomic Inc. in its annual reporting on the top UK restaurant chains, the foodservice research firm found that units grew 4.9 percent to 17,593 in 2011, compared to unit growth of 3.9 percent the previous year.

"It is certainly encouraging to see overall industry growth rates more than double in one year," said Darren Tristano, managing director of Technomic. "On a chain-by-chain basis, however, performance varied substantially, reflecting the fact that many organizations are still redefining their value propositions for today's economy and tackling various industry challenges."

Among limited-service restaurants, the largest menu categories in turnover came from burger (£2.3 billion), coffee shops (£1.5 billion) and chicken (£1.1 billion). The ranking was led, as usual, by Chicago-based McDonald's, which generated just below £1.9 billion in turnover in 2011, followed by Wetherspoon (£1 billion) and Greggs (£707.6 million).

As a whole, limited-service restaurants saw a turnover bump of 4.4 percent. The bakery subsegment experienced the fastest rate of turnover and unit growth, with an increase in turnover of 14.2 percent from 2010 and a unit growth rate of 11.6 percent. Though only two bakery chains are listed in the Leading 100 UK chains, both Paul and Le Pain Quotidien experienced significant turnover increases of 17 and 11.3 percent, respectively.

Full-service restaurants experienced an optimistic growth year in 2011 with an increase of 7.1 percent in turnover. Pub chains and casual dining restaurants showed an increase in this segment with a 7.3 and 6.8 percent rise in sales respectively.

Wetherspoon, a traditional pub chain, is the second largest chain in turnover for 2011 behind McDonald's. Following Wetherspoon, PizzaExpress reported the next highest turnover in the full-service segment at £367.5 million in 2011.

The top 10 UK chain restaurants (ranked by turnover in 2011 vs. 2010) are:

  1. McDonald's, £1,872M, 2.3 percent turnover change; 2.8 percent unit change;
  2. Wetherspoon, £1,038M, 9.7 percent turnover change; 8.5 percent unit change;
  3. Greggs, £708M, 6.9 percent turnover change; 4.2 percent unit change;
  4. KFC, £614M, 2.6 percent turnover change; 4.6 percent unit change;
  5. Costa Coffee, £610M, 16.8 percent turnover change; 9.1 percent unit change;
  6. Starbucks, £561M, 2.3 percent turnover change; 4.6 percent unit change;
  7. Pizza Hut, £529M, 0.7 percent turnover change; 0.0 unit change;
  8. Domino's Pizza, £496M, 9.5 percent turnover change; 8.9 percent unit change;
  9. Subway, £473M, 2.4 percent turnover change; 1.6 percent unit change; and
  10. Nando's £390M, 9.1 percent turnover change; 8 percent unit change.

In total, the top 10 restaurant chains accounted for almost £7.3 billion, more than half (52.3 percent) of total turnover for the top 100 UK chains.

The 2012 Technomic Leading 100 UK Chain Restaurant Report details the list with in-depth restaurant profiles, segment breakdown and emerging trends in that country.

Read more about trends and statistics.

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