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Subway plans to close about 500 U.S. stores this year

(Jeff Roberson, AP)

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) -- Subway said it's planning to close more U.S. stores while expanding internationally.

The company has 44,000 locations globally, more than any other retailer, according to CNN, and 26,000 locations in the United States.

The chain said it will shut down about 500 stores this year, on the heels of hundreds of closures over the last two years.

Company officials said the chain's sales dropped 4.4-percent last year due to competition from new chains and other fast food options.

"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," the company said on Wednesday.

It's now launching a new loyalty program, remodeling stores to look sleeker, and adding touch-screen kiosks for ordering.

The company said Wednesday it expects stores to close after it rolls out a revitalization plan, CNN reported.

Meanwhile, the chain plans to add more than 1,000 stores outside North America, focusing on locations in Britain, Germany, and Asia.

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