Subway to close 500 restaurants across the US

  • Subway is projecting it will close roughly 500 U.S. sandwich shops.
  • It will meanwhile open about 1,000 locations worldwide.
  • The restaurant chain is in the process of remodeling some locations and testing new menu items.

Subway Restaurants is projecting it will shutter roughly 500 locations across the U.S. as it expands the sandwich brand globally.

The chain closed more than 800 of its stores last year, which followed a smaller pullback in 2016. In turn, Subway expects to add more than 1,000 locations worldwide, including in Mexico, the United Kingdom, China and India.

Bloomberg first reported on the company's plans.

"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," a spokesman told CNBC in an email. "Subway restaurants are 100% Franchisee owned and operated, and our commitment to the Franchisees is to work with them to make each restaurant more successful."

With more than 40,000 locations globally, Subway ranks the largest restaurant chain in the world, outpacing McDonald's and Starbucks.

Recently though the sandwich behemoth has struggled to keep up with fast-casual competitors Panera Bread and Chipotle, among other grab-and-go options in grocery and convenience stores.

Subway announced its plans for a new concept store last year, and it started remodeling certain locations this year. The look is more modern, with ordering kiosks in stores, and different items on the menu. The chain has been testing sandwich wraps and gluten-free bread, for example.

Subway is also banking that a new loyalty program will draw more customers in and encourage them to order more. The incentive, rolled out earlier this year, is $2 off any menu item for every $50 spent.

"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 Subway spokesman said.