Franchises have become a major part of the business world, with some of the biggest companies in the world being built on the back of a successful franchise model. But what is the biggest franchise in the world?
McDonald’s is the clear leader when it comes to franchising, with 35,000 restaurants in over 100 countries.
The company has been franchising since 1955, and today, almost 93% of its restaurants are owned by independent franchisees.
In this article, we will take a look at the 10 biggest franchises in the world based on multiple factors, such as the total number of franchise units, global reach, and overall brand value.
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The Biggest Franchises In The World
With a staggering $154.92 billion brand value and 35,000 franchise units in over 100 countries, McDonald’s is the undisputed king of franchises.
It’s one of the most recognizable brands in the world, and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Since its humble beginnings as a burger restaurant in 1940, McDonald’s has grown into a global powerhouse.
It has come to dominate the fast food industry, and its golden arches are now one of the most recognized symbols on the planet.
Read: McDonald’s Franchise
Given the fact that you see a 7-Eleven on just about every street corner in America, it’s no surprise that the franchise has a massive global footprint.
With over 75,000 stores in 19 countries, 7-Eleven is the largest convenience store chain in the world.
7-Eleven got its start in 1927 as a small ice house in Dallas, Texas. Today, it’s a household name thanks to its convenient locations and wide selection of snacks and drinks.
Although competition from other convenience store chains and even gasoline stations is fierce, 7-Eleven continues to thrive thanks to its strong brand recognition.
Read: 7-Eleven Franchise
KFC is one of the most popular fast-food chains in the world, and it has a strong presence in over 150 countries.
With almost 25,000 franchise units, KFC is the second-largest fast-food chain in the world (behind McDonald’s).
Founded in 1952, KFC is best known for its fried chicken. The company has come a long way since its early days, and today it offers a wide variety of menu items, including chicken wraps, salads, and even grilled chicken.
Read: KFC Franchise
Subway’s unique selling proposition is its healthy food, and the franchise has been highly successful in recent years thanks to the growing demand for healthier alternatives to traditional fast food.
With over 42,000 franchise units in 109 countries, Subway is one of the largest food franchises in the world.
Subway was founded in 1965 by a teenager named Fred DeLuca. Today, it is the largest submarine sandwich chain in the world, and it continues to grow thanks to its affordable and healthy food options.
Read: Subway Franchise
5. Burger King
Another giant in the fast food industry, Burger King, is the third-largest hamburger chain in the world, with over 15,000 franchise units. The company has a strong global presence with restaurants in over 100 countries.
Burger King was founded in 1954, and it has been through a number of ownership changes over the years.
Despite this, the company has retained its place as one of the most popular fast-food chains in the world.
Read: Burger King Franchise
The fast food giant streak ends here with Hertz, the world’s largest car rental company. With over 8,500 locations in 146 countries, Hertz has a massive global footprint.
Founded in 1918, Hertz is one of the oldest franchises on this list. It was originally known as Rent-a-Car Inc., and it wasn’t until later that it changed its name to Hertz.
Today, the company is a household name thanks to its convenient locations and handles approximately 30 million reservations per year.
7. Ace Hardware
Named after the strong-willed ace fighter pilots of World War I, Ace Hardware is the largest retailer-owned hardware cooperative in the world.
The company has over 5,200 locations in 60 countries, and it is the go-to store for many homeowners and DIY enthusiasts.
Ace Hardware was founded in 1924 as a small group of hardware stores in the Midwest United States.
Today, it’s a widely known franchise thanks to its wide selection of hardware and home improvement products, with global sales nearing $13 billion per year.
Read: Ace Hardware Franchise
8. Circle K
Where you can’t find a 7-Eleven, you’re likely to find a Circle K. The company is the third-largest convenience store chain in the world, with over 14,000 locations worldwide.
This Canadian chain got its start in 1951 as a single store in El Paso, Texas. It has since exploded in popularity, thanks in part to its acquisition of the popular US convenience store chain Kangaroo Express.
The company’s strong presence in North America, Europe, and Asia makes it one of the most truly global franchises on this list.
9. Pizza Hut
Technically a sibling of KFC (both are owned by Yum! Brands), Pizza Hut is the world’s largest pizza chain, with over 18,000 locations in 100 countries.
Founded in 1958, Pizza Hut was one of the first pizza chains in the United States. The company has since expanded its menu to include a wide variety of pizzas, pasta dishes, and even chicken wings.
The signature “red roof” locations are a familiar sight in communities across the globe.
Read: Pizza Hut Franchise
Rounding out the list is Wendy’s, the world’s third-largest hamburger chain. This fast food powerhouse accounts for almost 7,000 restaurant locations in 29 countries, and it continues to grow thanks to its menu of fresh, made-to-order burgers and chicken sandwiches.
In 1969, Wendy’s was founded in Columbus, Ohio. It is known for its square hamburgers and Frosty dessert drinks.
In recent years, Wendy’s has been working on revamping its image and menu to appeal to a more health-conscious audience.
Read: Wendy’s Franchise
What Factors Do We Consider When Ranking The World’s Largest Franchises?
When determining the world’s largest franchises, we looked at a number of factors that contribute to a franchise’s overall success.
Here are some of the things we took into consideration:
- Global Presence: We consider the franchisor’s global reach when ranking the world’s largest franchises. A franchise that has a strong presence in multiple countries is more likely to make our list than one that is only present in a handful of countries.
- Number of Locations: This is perhaps the most important factor we consider when ranking the world’s largest franchises. A franchise with more locations is, by definition, larger than one with fewer locations.
- Financial Success: A franchise’s financial success is another key factor we consider. A franchise that is generating a lot of revenue and is profitable is more likely to make our list than one that is struggling financially.
- Brand Recognition: We also consider a franchise’s brand recognition when ranking the world’s largest franchises. A well-known franchise with a strong reputation is more likely to make our list than one that is relatively unknown.
So, what is the biggest franchise in the world? As we’ve seen, there are a number of large franchises that could lay claim to that title.
However, when you consider all of the factors we’ve mentioned, it’s clear that McDonald’s is the winner. With almost 40,000 locations in 100 countries, McDonald’s is the largest franchise in the world by a wide margin.
Amit Gupta is the founder of DrFranchises – a digital marketing agency that helps brands rank #1 on Google Maps through local SEO strategies. Amit has over 11 years of experience in digital marketing, SEO, email marketing, and social media marketing. He’s also the owner of multiple franchises and has helped countless brands achieve success online. When he’s not working, Amit can be found playing with his dog.