MILFORD, Conn. — Sandwich chain Subway Restaurants continues to shift its focus overseas, disclosing in a recent interview with Bloomberg that it will close about 500 US locations in 2018. The announcement comes after the restaurant chain shuttered hundreds of stores in both 2017 and 2016.

“We want to be sure that we have the best location,” Suzanne Greco, CEO of Subway, told Bloomberg. “We focused in the past on restaurant count. We’re focused now on strengthening market share.

“Store count isn’t everything. It’s about growing the business.”

In an emailed statement to Food Business News, sister publication to MEAT+POULTRY, a Subway spokesperson noted that Subway restaurants are 100 percent franchisee owned and operated, and the company’s commitment to its franchisees is “to work with them to make each restaurant more successful. Subway is the world’s largest restaurant chain, and we are confident we will remain the industry leader.”

“In North America we are implementing an aggressive revitalization plan, which we expect to result in the closing, consolidation or relocation of a few hundred locations in 2018,” the spokesperson said. “Simultaneously, outside of North America we expect to open more than 1,000 new restaurants this year. Looking out over the next decade, we anticipate having a slightly smaller, but more profitable footprint in North America and a significantly larger footprint in the rest of the world.”

Worldwide, Subway is the largest restaurant chain with about 44,000 restaurants in 112 countries. Approximately 26,000 of those restaurants are located in the United States.