Subway is expected to close 500 U.S. stores this year after closing more than 800 last year, while expanding overseas.
Subway representatives clarified initial news reports that the number of stores expected to close is a projection, not a confirmed number. Each Subway restaurant is an independent franchise, so the final decision on which locations will close will be up to the franchise owners.
Instead, Subway is implementing what the company calls an “aggressive revitalization plan,” which they anticipate will result in closing, consolidation or relocation of locations.
“We anticipate having a slightly smaller, but more profitable footprint in North America and a significantly larger footprint in the rest of the world,” read a statement from the company.
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Even losing 500 locations still leaves quite a few Subway restaurants, which currently number more than 25,000 across the U.S. — which outnumbers mega chain McDonald’s. The 50-year-old sandwich chain has had strong competition from a growing trend of grab-and-go fare and other sandwich chains, according to Bloomberg.
Sandwiches can be found in fast-food chains, gas stations, Panera Bread, Starbucks and even outlets not previously seen as competitors such as Target and Walgreens, according to Fortune.
Subway sales dropped 4.4 percent while top competitor McDonald’s increased by 3.4 percent, the best performance in years, according to Fortune.
More than 1,000 Subway locations will open outside of North America, focusing on the U.K. Germany, India, China and Mexico. The company is also launching a new loyalty program offering free items and discounts to regular customers.
In the meantime, no list has been released yet to determine which Subway stores will close. There are dozens of Subway locations in the metro-east, with seven in Belleville alone, as well as locations in Swansea, Millstadt, Freeburg, O’Fallon, Fairview Heights, Lebanon, Caseyville, Mascoutah, Cahokia, Collinsville, East St. Louis, Edwardsville, Waterloo, Dupo, Glen Carbon, Bethalto, Hamel, Wood River, Maryville, Troy, Highland, Alton and others.