Nation & World

Two more chains to slim operations

Pedestrians walk past a GNC store in New York on Feb. 14, 2013. CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Jin Lee.
Pedestrians walk past a GNC store in New York on Feb. 14, 2013. CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Jin Lee.

Two retailers with multiple locations in Eastern Iowa, GNC and Subway, announced Thursday they would be shuttering stores.

GNC Holdings said it will close 200 stores this year as the vitamin retail company cuts costs and grapples with more than $1 billion in debt.

As other retailers, Pittsburgh-based GNC has been struggling with a large brick-and-mortar footprint and competition from online sellers. It operates or oversees 8,905 stores, including 3,385 in the United States. Sales at U.S. locations that have been open for at least a year were down 1.9 percent in the first quarter, GNC said in a statement.

It has not announced which locations would be closed or when that would occur.

GNC operates several stores in Eastern Iowa. According to the retailer’s website:

l Cedar Rapids — 2320 Edgewood Rd. SW

l Cedar Rapids — at Lindale Mall at 4444 First Ave. NE

l Cedar Rapids — 5418 Blairs Forest Way NE

l Marion — 1384 Twixt Town Rd.

l Coralville — at Coral Ridge Mall, 1451 Coral Ridge Ave.

l Iowa City — 201 S. Clinton St.

l Williamsburg — at Tanger Outlet mall, 233 Tanger Dr.

Subway Restaurants, the world’s most ubiquitous dining chain, said Thursday it will continue to close U.S. stores as it expands internationally.

After peppering the nation with thousands of locations, closely held Subway is retrenching. This year, the sandwich purveyor is planning to shut about 500 more of its U.S. shops.

Last year, more than 800 stores went dark, with the total U.S. count dropping to 25,908. It also closed restaurants in 2016.

“We want to be sure that we have the best location,” CEO Suzanne Greco, 60, said in a phone interview. “We focused in the past on restaurant count. We’re focused now on strengthening market share.”

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Store count isn’t everything,” she said. “It’s about growing the business.”

The sandwich shop, founded more than 50 years ago, is struggling to boost sales in the United States as newer, more modern chains emerge. Greco said Subway had been hurt by fierce competition in the U.S., including from a resurgent McDonald’s.

It’s also now faced with supermarkets and gas stations that are selling more grab-and-go fare, putting immense pressure on Subway to be faster and more convenient.

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