Limited-Service Restaurants in Eastern Europe

May 2021

Although badly hit by Coronavirus (COVID-19), limited-service restaurants (LSR) was the least-impacted consumer foodservice channel by the pandemic in 2020. With takeaway and home delivery services either already in place or quickly added during initial lockdowns, LSR outlets were better able to withstand the impact of COVID-19. LSR is also expected to recover quicker than many other consumer foodservice types in the forecast period.

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Key findings

Positive growth in the historic period

Healthy annual growth rates were being registered in real value terms in Eastern Europe over the historic period. Russia, the region’s largest market, saw a clear improvement in its performance after the first few years of the historic period as it emerged from the financial crisis, while Poland, the second biggest market, was recording dynamic growth.

Steep decline in 2020 due to COVID-19

The positive growth came to an abrupt halt in 2020, when measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, including the closure of foodservice outlets for dine-in during lockdowns, made this one of the hardest-hit industries. However, the LSR channel was generally performing slightly better than the rest of the foodservice industry, helped by being well suited to takeaway/home delivery as well as offering affordable menus that local consumers were already very familiar with.

Further digitalisation expected

Operators in Eastern Europe have been looking to improve their efficiency by investing in the development and promotion of mobile apps that make it easier for consumers to place orders for home delivery and ensure they do not have to queue at outlets when collecting takeaway orders. For example, McDonald’s is rolling out its “Experience of the Future” service in the region, featuring the placing of orders through digital control stations, and the food and drinks then being delivered direct to the table, with no queueing being involved.

Healthy forecast period growth expected

Sales are currently expected to return to positive territory from 2021, as the region hopefully begins to emerge from the pandemic. Given the decline for the LSR channel was not as deep as for most other foodservice areas, it should see a quicker return to pre-pandemic levels, reaching 2019’s sales again in 2023. Chained burger LSR will add the most new sales over 2020-2025.


Key findings

Regional Overview

Eastern Europe has the lowest regional sales level
Return to pre-COVID-19 sales levels not expected until 2023
Poland adds the most new retail value over the 2015-2020 period
Convenience store outlet numbers continue to grow in Poland in 2020
Burger LSR channel adds the most new value over 2015-2020
Pandemic drives the development of takeaway/home delivery
Standalone continues to dominate consumer foodservice distribution
Mall foodservice outlets among some of the hardest hit by COVID-19

Leading Companies and Brands

Leading players increase their shares in 2020
McDonald’s, KFC and Burger King continue expanding
Russia and Poland the main revenue generators for the top 10 players
McDonald’s remains a strong leading LSR brand in 2020

Forecast Projections

Eastern Europe to return to positive growth rates in 2021…
…but will not return to pre-COVID-19 sales levels until 2023

Country Snapshots

Bulgaria: Market Context
Bulgaria: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Czech Republic: Market Context
Czech Republic: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Hungary: Market Context
Hungary: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Poland: Market Context
Poland: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Romania: Market Context
Romania: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Russia: Market Context
Russia: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Slovakia: Market Context
Slovakia: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Ukraine: Market Context
Ukraine: Competitive and Retail Landscape


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