If you were born any time before the 2010s, it is most likely that the slogan “Eat Fresh” or the beloved “Five Dollar Footlong” jingle, are etched in your memory. Subway has constantly reinvented itself and has not faced much competition until the 21st century, where deemed “higher-quality” sandwich shops have taken bites (pun intended) out of Subway’s market share. However, statically Subway remains far ahead of the competition domestically and globally. In the most recent QSR output of food chains, Subway ranked 3rd, which is 8 spots ahead of Panera bread, their nearest competitor. In terms of sales volume, subway has now eclipsed $10bn, which is more than Panera and Arby’s combined. However, the company faced some headwinds in the 21st century and has closed hundreds of locations domestically. This should indicate regression, but the company continues to show positive YoY growth. The troubles have come as a result of the oversaturation of stores in non-prime locations, as Subway took on the business model of franchisees only, having zero company owned and operated stores. Their closures domestically have resulted in more of a global expansion focus and higher quality stores.
Their domestic issues are not duplicated internationally. In fact, the pandemic accelerated the pipeline of international presence. Since the pandemic, Subway has signed agreements with the following countries that will result in over 3,000 new storefronts worldwide! (India, Indonesia, Kuwait, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Thailand). Expansion in Asia, specifically emerging economies in the Middle east is at the forefront of corporate efforts. Although it took some time, Subway has arrived in the digital sales part of the fast-food industry. In 2021, digital sales hit $1.3 billion, more than triple the amount just two years prior. The company went through a complete change in logo, colors, and storefront renovation requirements to appease the modern consumers. To keep the transformation efforts going, Subway is going to launch a secret item menu called “The Vault” as well as an all-new catering system, both coming this year.
Subway will continue to grow its international presence more so than the saturation that is happening domestically. To date, Subway operates in more than 100 countries with over 37,000 storefronts and is re-investing their financial success to global expansion efforts.