Subway launches new franchise development program

Subway has implemented an updated U.S. franchise development strategy as part of the brand’s multi-year transformation journey to improve in all aspects, according to a press release.

The updated strategy focuses on Subway’s transition from a development-focused to an experience-focused organization and is an integrated approach with marketing and operations to deliver better food and a better customer experience. Priorities include optimizing the brand footprint to prepare the business for future growth, investing in restaurant upgrades and expanding Subway’s franchise profile.

“Subway was built with an expansion mindset that has helped us become one of the biggest fast food brands in the world,” said Steve Rafferty, senior vice president of business development for Subway, in the communicated. “Today, we are strategically focusing on the quality of our restaurants rather than quantity and seek to franchise restaurants to sophisticated multi-unit owners who can help us deliver a consistent, high-quality customer experience.”

The company’s 2021 “Eat Fresh Refresh” launch brought the biggest menu update in the brand’s history. As a result, the company experienced its highest annual average unit volume (AUV) since 2014, significant growth across digital channels and renewed passion for the brand among customers and franchisees. The momentum continues in 2022, with 75% of the Subway network, representing more than 15,000 locations, seeing an 8.2% average increase in same-store sales in the first quarter of 2022, compared to 2019.

Among the updated franchise strategy are:

  • Partner with franchisees and take a data-driven approach to align with specific market needs and ensure restaurants are in the right format and locations, including drive-thru and locations non-traditional, to provide convenience, accessibility and value.
  • Nearly 9,000 Subway restaurants in the United States have committed to renovations with the brand’s new “Fresh Forward” design.
  • Expand Subway’s franchisee profile by seeking multi-unit franchisees. “Historically, Subway has been a system comprised primarily of single restaurant operators,” Rafferty added. “These operators – often new business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs – have always been an integral part of our growth strategy, and they will continue to be a vital part of our brand strength. At the same time, for us ensuring we remain competitive for years to come, we are growing with high caliber multi-unit franchisees, who bring operational expertise, development capabilities and capital.”
  • Internationally, the company has signed eight master franchise and development agreements with nearly 5,000 future restaurant commitments.

Subway operates more than 37,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries.