Subway Restaurants is planning to shutter an estimated 500 locations in the U.S. The Milford, Conn.-based chain wants to focus on better restaurant locations and boosting sales, according to Bloomberg. High on its priorities list is overseas expansion.
The news comes a year after Subway shut down 800-plus locations. 2016 also saw store closings, Bloomberg reported. The chain currently has close to 26,000 locations in the U.S.
Subway also expects to open 1,000-plus restaurants around the globe, including in Mexico, the U.K., Germany, South Korea, India and China, CEO Suzanne Greco told Bloomberg. With an estimated 44,000 locations in 112 countries, Subway is the largest restaurant chain in the world, according to the company website.
Subway is known for its sandwiches, but is facing increasing competition. In addition to convenience stores and drug stores starting to stock sandwiches, numerous other chain restaurants serve similar fare — from Panera to McDonald's Signature Crafted Sandwiches to Starbucks, which is making a big play for lunchtime business.
"Looking out over the next decade, we anticipate having a slightly smaller, but more profitable footprint in North America and a significantly larger footprint in the rest of the world," the company said in an e-mail, which it called the move "an aggressive revitalization plan."
"People are voting with their feet. They don’t want what Subway has to offer," said Bob Phibbs, CEO of the New York-based consultancy The Retail Doctor. "They’ve been closing stores for a long time. They’re hoping to make this up internationally."