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The Top 10 Biggest Franchises in the World

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The Top 10 Biggest Franchises in the World

The Top 10 Biggest Franchises in the World

Have you ever wondered which franchises are considered the biggest in the world? We decided to explore this topic and have come up with the following list. Not surprisingly, the largest franchises are mainly fast food franchises; this says volumes about the world’s economic development, shifting appetites and urbanisation. Where there is economic growth, there are burgers, chips and fried chicken.

Supersized franchise brands

The following franchise brands lead the pack according to the Franchise Times Top 200 guide for 2014. Interestingly, four of these top ten were founded in the 1950s. Half of these brands have representation in South Africa, including McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway and Burger King.

McDonalds1. McDonald’s

Founded in 1954
More than 33 000 outlets worldwide

McDonald’s is the world’s largest franchise network with an incredible $89 billion in global sales. Despite increasing competition, it has held on to this spot every year since the rankings were first released in 2000. To put this size into context, it is larger than KFC, Subway and Burger King combined.

7-Eleven2. 7-Eleven

Founded in 1927

More than 55 000 outlets worldwide

The tills continue to ring in 7-Eleven franchises with $84 billion in global sales and a ranking as the world’s second largest franchise. This is also the world’s largest convenience store chain with some 55,000 stores in 16 countries and 10,400 stores in North America alone.


Founded in 1930

More than 18,800 outlets worldwide

What came first, KFC or the craving for fried chicken? The world’s taste for KFC is insatiable and this giant serves more than 12 million customers each day in more than 115 countries. Parent company Yum! is ranked number 201 on the Fortune 500 list, with revenue topping $13 billion.  It is estimated that, on average, an estimated 185 million people see a KFC commercial at least once a week.

Subway4. Subway

Founded in 1965

More than 42,000 outlets worldwide

Back in 1965, Fred DeLuca planned to become a medical doctor. Searching for a way to fund his education, a friend suggested he open a submarine sandwich shop. Today, the brand is the world’s largest sandwich chain and fourth largest global franchise. Submarine refers to the shape of the roll, and not the recommendation that the sandwich should be eaten under water. Subway are also expanding in South Africa, here’s more about current franchise opportunities.

Burger King5. Burger King

Founded in 1953

More than 13,000 outlets worldwide

Burger King, often abbreviated as BK, is placed as the world’s sixth largest franchise with global sales reaching $16 billion. The group’s majority shareholders, Brazilian private equity group 3G Capital, are chasing world domination and in 2013 the franchise added a ‘whopping’ 700 international locations to the network.

Hertz6. Hertz

Founded in 1918

More than 11,500 outlets worldwide

Almost as old as the invention of the car itself, Hertz boasts almost a century in the car rental industry. With $14 billion in global sales, Hertz is the world’s largest car rental business with approximately 9,000 locations in 147 countries. Hertz’s reservation centres handle approximately 40 million phone calls and handle 30 million reservations annually.

Ace Hardware7. Ace Hardware

Founded in 1924

More than 4,800 outlets worldwide

Ace Hardware comes in at number seven with global sales totalling over $13 billion. The company was named after the ace fighter pilots of World War I, who were able to overcome all odds. An apt name for what has become the world’s largest home improvement franchise.

Circle K8. Circle K

Founded in 1951

More than 8,200 outlets worldwide

At number eight is convenience store brand Circle K, overtaking ninth place contender Pizza Hut in 2014. This is quite a feat for the retail giant which filed for bankruptcy in 1990. The franchised portion of the business boasts global sales of $12 billion.  Circle K is owned and operated by the Canadian firm with the tongue-twisting name of Alimentation Couche-Tard.

Pizza Hut9. Pizza Hut

Founded in 1958

More than 14,000 outlets worldwide

In the number nine spot is Pizza Hut, the second brand by parent company Yum! to crack the global top ten list. This fast food franchise can be found in over 120 countries – everywhere from Lebanon to Luxembourg. With global sales topping $12 billion, we can hold this pizza giant responsible for

driving up the price of tomatoes.  Pizza Hut recently re-entered the South African market.

Wendy's10. Wendy’s

Founded in 1969

More than 6,500 outlets worldwide

Wendy’s is still a firm franchise favourite with a formidable global sales figure of $9 billion. While it doesn’t have a signature meal like ‘The Big Mac’ or ‘The Whopper’ the chain is known for its square hamburgers, sea salt fries and soft serve ice-cream.

Big ambitions for Franchising

The team at whichfranchise hope that you’re suitably inspired to join a leading franchise brand or consider growing a bit bigger by franchising your business. You’ve come to the right place; check out our available franchise listings or read more about expanding your operations through franchising 

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