Sandwich maker Subway has stolen the fast food crown from long-time holder McDonald's, claiming more stores worldwide for the first time.
On January 1, Subway had 33,749 stores across the globe, spokesperson Les Winograd said, surpassing McDonald's reported 32,737 outlets.
"We overcame them at some point in 2010. One year ago, we were slightly behind," Winograd told AFP.
The company said some of its success was due to its private ownership. Subway was founded in 1965 and is not listed on the stock exchange.
"That is our choice, and the reason for that is that it enables us to focus on the product, the quality, the restaurants and not on the other things associated with a public company, like financial statements," said Winograd.
McDonald's, born in 1955 in a Chicago suburb, has dominated the fast-food market for most of its existence, becoming an icon of capitalism and a mainstay of the US stock market.
Today it is seemingly omnipresent on streets from Madrid to Los Angeles and the company is valued at around $80 billion.
McDonald's spokeswoman Heidi Barker played down the news.
"We remain focused on listening to and serving our customers, and are committed to being better, not just bigger," she said.
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