Subway is planning to close around 500 more of its U.S. sandwich shops as it focuses on expanding internationally. Last year, the restaurant chain closed more than 800 stores, with the total count of U.S. locations dropping to 25,908.
According to The Boston Globe, Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Greco said, ‘‘We want to be sure that we have the best location. We focused in the past on restaurant count. We’re focused now on strengthening market share.’’
She added, ‘‘Store count isn’t everything. It’s about growing the business.’’
Greco revealed that Subway has struggled with growing competition in the U.S., including McDonald’s, which saw domestic system sales rise 3.4 percent last year. Subway’s fell 4.4 percent. In addition, supermarkets and gas stations are now selling more grab-and-go fare.
Along with the closures, Greco said, some stores are being relocated and Subway is utilizing data from SiteZeus to choose better locations. In February, Subway announced a new loyalty program — Subway MyWay Rewards — that offers its customers tokens, which eventually mature into dollars.
Subway’s Chief Digital Officer Carissa Ganelli in a press release, “We know time and money are important to our guests. It’s important to us that we deliver a seamless, convenient experience to help our customers get what they want when they want it — and what they want is our delicious, nutritious and affordable food.”
The chain has also updated its store design to include new digital self-order kiosks, separate food-prep areas and a designated pick-up location for kiosk and mobile orders. Subway worked with FRCH Design Worldwide to design the new space, which includes bright and playful decor inspired by fresh vegetables, as well as curated music and comfortable seating with USB charging ports and complimentary Wi-Fi.
But the real opportunity for expansion, according to Greco, is abroad. This year, the chain will add more than 1,000 locations outside of North America, and is focused on growth in countries that include the U.K., Germany, South Korea, India, China and Mexico.