Why McDonald’s or Starbucks isn’t the most franchised company in the world

Despite the seeming ubiquity of McDonald’s Golden Arches and the Starbucks’ twin-tailed mermaid, sandwich chain Subway actually has the most locations of any restaurant worldwide.

In 2018, Subway had 42,431 stores worldwide in 2018, down from a total of 44,608 restaurants in the previous year.

It beats second-place McDonald’s at 36,000 around the world and third-place is Starbucks with 28,218 (2018).

This number, however, belies the economic reality. While McDonald’s and Starbucks have mostly grown their sales every year for the last five years, Subway sales have been slipping since 2014.

Foot traffic is down 7.6 percent over the last 12 months, according to food industry market research firm Technomic.

Shortly after this slump began, Subway started closing stores. More than 350 were shuttered in 2016. More than 800 in 2017; and another 500 in 2018.

Industry analysts point to a few reasons for this, but especially a lack of innovation.

While McDonald’s and Starbucks continually create new products and store designs to evolve along with changing consumer preferences, Subway lags behind.

Last summer, the sandwich shop announced its first major redesign, Fresh Forward, in nearly 20 years.

New Subway CEO Trevor Haynes is an Australian businessman, and CEO of the Subway fast food chain. He took over since June 2018, after Suzanne Greco the younger sister of  Fred DeLuca retired.

Many are still wondering whether this change can turn the tide for the world’s most prolific restaurant chain.

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