It’s official: Subway is now the biggest franchise in the world.
It was revealed yesterday that the sandwich giants now had 33,749 stores worldwide at the end of last year. Purely in terms of units, this means that are the largest restaurant in the world. McDonald’s, the previous world leader, isn’t too far behind with 32,737 units. But there’s a sort of pride that comes with being the biggest franchise on earth and we can assume that Subway will wear that crown proudly.
McDonald’s will be happy enough to be world leader in terms of sales worldwide, that is for sure. They were passed out domestically by Subway nearly a decade ago. The global dominance of Subway is of course underwritten by huge expansion in the developing world, primarily China. Julie Jargon writes in the Wall-Street Journal that Subway’s global success is underpinned by a flexibility to open restaurants in unpredictable venues: Subway has achieved its rapid growth, in part, by opening outlets in non-traditional locations such as an automobile showroom in California, an appliance store in Brazil, a ferry terminal in Seattle, a riverboat in Germany, a zoo in Taiwan, a Goodwill store in South Carolina, a high school in Detroit and a church in Buffalo, New York.
"We're continually looking at just about any opportunity for someone to buy a sandwich, wherever that might be. The closer we can get to the customer, the better," Mr. Fertman says, explaining that it now has almost 8,000 Subways in unusual locations. "The non-traditional is becoming traditional."
It’s hard to know when Subway will hit a saturation point worldwide, but for now, it’s clear that the world is happy with their sandwiches. We congratulate them on reaching this milestone.