Subway now has more restaurants worldwide than McDonald's.
The sandwich chain surpassed the world's largest hamburger chain in terms of number of stores in the U.S. in 2002 and now it has taken the global lead.
Subway had 33,749 restaurants worldwide at the end of last year, according to the company. McDonald's Corp. had 32,737, according a regulatory filing.
"We've been on a great run," said Tony Pace, chief marketing officer of Subway's Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust, the franchisees organization under the company's umbrella.
Subway is entirely franchisee-owned. That has been part of its success, Pace said. Its smaller-format stores cost less to open and operate than other chain restaurants. The company's emphasis on cost-control, marketing and advertising has also helped grow the brand.
Subway, like many restaurant chains, is making a major push in international markets.
McDonald's, however, remains the industry's revenue champion. The company, which is also heavily franchise-oriented by still has company stores, reported $24 billion in revenue for its last fiscal year.
Subway generated roughly $15.2 billion, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. Subway, which is based Milford, Conn., is owned by privately held Doctor's Associates Inc. and does not publicly disclose its financial figures.
McDonald's, based in Oak Brook, Ill., said in a statement it is still growing but it has made a "concerted effort over the past couple of years on getting better rather than getting bigger."