Sandwich chain Subway is planning a major expansion of its business in Ireland and plans to create more than 1,800 jobs over the next six years with the opening of new outlets.

Subway plans to open 40 new shops in Ireland over the next year alone in an investment worth almost €5m. This will create up to 400 jobs.

The company aims to add more than 180 stores around the country by 2020. It opened 16 new stores in Ireland last year which brings its total in Ireland to 117.

Subway also said it is planning an expansion in the UK. There are currently over 1,700 stores in Ireland and the UK. All are independently owned and operated by franchisees. 

The firm said the expansion was in response to growing consumer demand for its offering which now includes extended opening hours to cater for the growing breakfast market.

Subway said that the Irish and UK markets have been "fantastic success stories" for the brand, adding that it sees opportunities for further growth. It said it sees new opportunities in areas such as petrol stations, hospitals, airports and universities.

Subway describes itself as the world's largest "submarine sandwich franchise with over 41,000 locations in more than 100 countries". The Irish and UK market is the largest outside North America.