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Subway at 40,000: Fast Food's Global King Keeps Growing

The world’s biggest fast-food chain just got a little bigger.

Subway has opened its 40,000th outpost worldwide. The sprawling chain has already added 1,761 outlets since the start of 2013 and plans to add another 10,000 new locations by 2017, says Don Fertman, the sandwich giant’s chief development officer. McDonald’s (MCD), the world’s second-biggest fast-food chain, currently counts around 34,700 restaurants.

While Subway is expanding faster now in such overseas markets as Russia, Brazil, France, and the U.K., Fertman believes “there’s still room for growth” back home in the U.S., including what he calls “underserved” markets such as Boston and Philadelphia. It might even be possible for Subway to cross the 100,000 location threshold by 2030, according to some scenarios envisioned by the company.

In the interest of adding locations, the chain isn’t shy about squeezing tiny stores into nontraditional spaces, such as laundromats, health clubs, and movie theaters. The 40,000th Subway, for instance, is located inside an AppleGreen gas station in Ipswich, England. Here’s a look at how Subway grew from a single shop in Bridgeport, Conn., which served its first customer in 1965, to a multinational sandwich maker with stores in 102 countries, including Iceland and Zambia (two nations where it’s impossible to order a Big Mac, by the way).

Wong is an associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek. Follow her on Twitter @venessawwong.
Davidson is a contributing illustrator and animator for Bloomberg Businessweek. Follow her on Twitter @stephcd.

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