Subway made a lot of noise when it overtook McDonald’s in number of outlets, but it’s still not the world’s largest franchise. In fact, it doesn’t even rate in the Franchise Top 3 by some criteria.


The thing is, if you don’t count US outlets, Subway would only sit at No. 4. As you can see from the map below, Subway dominates in its North American home market and New Zealand, but has yet to achieve world domination.

Map: Wikipedia

On the other hand, another leading franchise, 7-Eleven, which was founded in Dallas, Texas, is now headquartered in Japan, where it has more than 15,000 stores, compared to just 8,200 in the United States. There are 2,079 stores in Tokyo alone. With 13 million people, Tokyo is a massive city, but with that number of stores, 7-Eleven has one store for every 6,364 people. If you think New Zealand is over-franchised, remember that Subway, the largest franchise here with 221 stores, has one store for every 20,480 people.

7-Eleven has more than 50,000 stores worldwide, 96% of them franchised. That makes it the world’s No. 1 franchise by number of outlets, way ahead of Subway at No. 2 with 38,000 and McDonald’s at No. 3 with a measly 34,000. But if you thought that would also make 7-Eleven, which turned over a whopping $85 billion last year, No. 1 by revenue, think again. That distinction belongs to long-time champ McDonald’s which won by a nose with $88 billion of sales in 2013. Subway didn’t get even get a look-in with just $18 billion, behind the No. 3 placegetter, KFC, with $22 billion.

To recap, McDonald’s is No. 1 in revenue and 7-Eleven is No. 1 in outlets – but the question in the headline was “Who’s Winning the Battle for World Domination?” In other words, what franchise is found in more countries around the globe than any other? Scroll down to see the results…

Map: McDonald's World Expansion by Country and Era



Source: Wikipedia        

Note: This map is interesting because it shows the path of McDonald's growth, starting from North America and then expanding first into Europe and Australasia. Only parts of South East Asia, the Middle East and Africa remain.

Top 4 Franchises by the number of countries they're found in

No. 4                7-Eleven which is found in 16 countries

No. 3                Subway in 105 countries

No. 2                KFC in 118 countries

No. 1                McDonald’s in 121 countries

At this point I must apologise to Joy S. and McDonald’s for accusing McDonald’s in a LinkedIn discussion forum of exhibiting “follower mentality”, a response to the news that McDonald’s has only just opened its first restaurants in Vietnam, where Burger King, Carl’s Jr. and many other franchises are well-established and KFC already has 137 stores. McDonald’s may be off the pace in Vietnam but clearly not in the rest of the world.  

Article by Robin La Pere, No Ordinary Business and Franchise Consultants

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