Foodservice Equipment Reports

Subway Bigger Than McDs, But…

Does it mean anything to the E&S world that Subway has surpassed McDonald's Corp. as the world's largest restaurant chain, in terms of units? It probably depends on what kind of equipment you make, sell or spec.

In store counts, Milford, Conn.-based Subway says it presently operates 34,265 stores in 96 countries, compared with McDonald's 32,737 units in 117 countries. The Oak Brook, Ill., burger giant, which disclosed its totals in January, is still the leader by far when it comes to systemwide sales, reporting $77.4 billion in worldwide sales last year. Subway, closely held and owned by Doctors Associates, reported $15.2 billion. That’s a more than five-to-one ratio.

Subway surpassed the number of McDonald's in the U.S. about nine years ago. It currently has just over 24,000 restaurants in the U.S., about 10,000 more units than McDonald’s can claim. Subway has achieved its rapid growth, in part, by opening about 8,000 outlets in non-traditional locations, including a car showroom in California, a ferry terminal in Seattle, a Goodwill store in South Carolina, a high school in Detroit, high-rise construction projects in New York City, and a church in Buffalo, N.Y. And then there are the Subway units in an appliance store in Brazil, a riverboat in Germany and a zoo in Taiwan.

Subway opened its first international restaurant in 1984 in Bahrain. By 2020, the chain anticipates its number of international restaurants to exceed its domestic ones. As with many chains, China will likely become one of its largest markets. While it only has 199 restaurants there now, Subway expects to have more than 500 by 2015. Subway just opened its 1,000th location in Asia, including its first in Vietnam.

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