The Golden Arches may be tumbling soon. Subway recently declared they will have more locations than McDonald’s (Stock Quote: MCD) by the end of this year. Subway currently has 31,771 shops worldwide, but plans to open up several hundred more and surpass McDonald’s record of 32,158 restaurants.
Subway already owns the record at home, beating out McDonald's for most U.S. locations since 2002. They now have more than 22,000 locations in America. There are 1,500 stores in Wal-Mart locations (Stock Quote: WMT) alone, according to Subway’s public relations office.
Meanwhile, McDonald’s still dominates abroad. The burger chain has locations in 118 countries, compared to Subway which is in just 91 countries.
In some ways, the total number of locations, like all records, can be read as just a symbol. But it does point to a distinct business method. McDonald’s has entered into more world markets, but in recent years, the burger giant has focused on making its existing locations more profitable rather than opening new ones. And it seems to be working: The average McDonald’s store rakes in five times as much money as the average Subway.
“We're focused on our long-term business strategy, the Plan to Win,” said Heidi Barker, Director of Media Relations at McDonald’s. “Part of that plan is ‘being better, not just bigger.’”
Subway, on the other hand, tends to apply the Starbucks (Stock Quote: SBUX) method, saturating particular areas by opening multiple stores in close proximity to one another. “If you’re in a city, you might not always want to cross the street,” said Les Winograd, public relations representative for Subway. Yet, if Starbucks is any indication, this model is not always sustainable. The coffee giant has closed hundreds of stores in the last year.
Winograd said the company is not too worried about that. Their goal is to get into environments with "captive audiences" such as churches, laundromats and malls, regardless of whether those locations are near other existing ones.