Subway planning to close 500 sandwich shops this year

April 26, 2018

Subway planning to close 500 sandwich shops this year

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Subway, the world’s largest restaurant chain, plans to close 500 stores in the U.S. this year, Bloomberg reported.

The closings are on top of the 800 locations shuttered in 2017. Still, that leaves Subway with more than 25,000 sandwich shops in the United States.

“We want to be sure that we have the best location,” Subway CEO Suzanne Greco told Bloomberg. “We focused in the past on restaurant count. We’re focused now on strengthening market share.”

The chain, whose slogan is “Eat Fresh,” has been hurt in recent years by strong competition from fast-food giants like McDonalds, fast-casual favorites Panera and Chipotle, and even the increasingly growing number of gas stations and convenience stores that serve quick, made-to-order food.

The company is now focusing on several initiatives to boost sales, which fell by 4.4 percent last year. Subway plans to expand globally with the opening of 1,000 locations outside of North America. Domestic stores are also being remodeled with a more modern look and conveniences such as touch-screen ordering kiosks, WiFi and charging ports.

Remember Subway stamp cards? The company rolled out a new loyalty program earlier this year that allows frequent customers to earn rewards such as free cookies or chips, or $2 discounts more quickly.

No word on which Subway locations are on the chopping block. The sandwich chain has more than 50 stores in Northeast Ohio.

“Subway restaurants are 100% Franchisee owned and operated,” a spokesperson said in an email to CNBC. “Our commitment to the Franchisees is to work with them to make each restaurant more successful.”