Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Subway vs. McDonald's

Here's a sentence I wrote today: "At year-end 2010, the chain had 33,749 restaurants worldwide, compared to McDonald's total of 32,737." The chain being Subway, and the news hook is the fact that Subway has surpassed McDonald's worldwide in number of locations.

That's an impressive number of locations, all right. If you got it into your head to visit a different location every day, it would take you more than 92 years just to visit them all once, without repeating -- and that's only the ones existing now. So it would be a multi-generational project. "Son, you're a man now. Time to start visiting the Subways in Asia. Begin in Singapore and work your way north."

East Asia is, in fact, a prime target for more Subways; there are only about 1,000 locations there now. In the early '90s, I don't ever remember seeing any in that part of the world, but it didn't occur to me to look for them, either. Among American brands planted in the Orient, McDonald's dwarfed all competitors in those days, though others were scattered around, such as the incongruous A&W I ran across in I forget which mall in Kuala Lumpur.

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