Subway shuts hundreds of U.S. stores in historic retrenchment



By Leslie Patton, Bloomberg News

Subway Restaurants closed hundreds of domestic locations last year, marking the biggest retrenchment in the history of a chain that spent decades saturating America with restaurants.

The company lost 359 U.S. locations in 2016, the first time that Subway had a net reduction. The store count dropped 1.3 percent to 26,744 from 27,103 in 2015, but Subway remains the nation’s most ubiquitous eatery. McDonald’s Corp. is No. 1 by sales.

The closely held company is coping with a sales slowdown in the U.S., made worse by the emergence of newer fast-casual rivals and the industry’s heavy reliance on discounts and promotions. Subway also has lost some of its luster as a healthier-food option. It’s been working to restore its status by eliminating antibiotics from its chicken and switching to cage-free eggs.

In another bid to revive growth, Subway is adding delivery services — a strategy that’s also been embraced by McDonald’s. And it even unveiled a new, more contemporary logo. But so far, the changes haven’t helped much: Sales fell 1.7 percent last year to about $11.3 billion.

Industrywide, same-store sales continued to slide in the U.S. during March. They dropped 0.6 percent in the fourth straight month of decreases, according to MillerPulse data.



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