New York (CNN Business) – After years of declining sales, Subway wants to reintroduce itself to customers and convince them to try their sandwiches.
Next week, Subway restaurants across the United States will introduce an updated menu designed to improve items across the board. The chain says the move is the biggest slate change in its history.
The renovation includes new recipes for the chain’s Italian and multi-grain bread, as well as new additions to sandwiches.
The string also modifies the items already in the list. For example, Subway bacon will now be smoked with walnuts, turkey, and pork, cut into thinner slices. You’ll also bring back items from the past like roast chicken and roast beef. To encourage customers to try the new ingredients, thousands of restaurants plan to give away up to one million free sandwiches between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. on July 13. The chain will also revamp the look of its app and partner with DoorDash to allow customers to order delivery directly from the Subway app.
Subway was considered by some buyers as an affordable and relatively healthy option; They can load their sandwiches with their favorite combination of veggies and protein without spending a lot of money. But in recent years, competition in the casual fast food space has helped Subway to excel.
“We want to make an explosion strong enough … to attract these people and give us another look,” Subway CEO John Chidsee told CNN Business.
With the new listing, Subway is acquiring those customers, while also hoping to satisfy franchise operators.
According to food service research and consulting firm Technomic, sales at US Subway locations have plummeted in recent years. System-wide sales at US Subway locations were $12.3 billion in 2013, their best year in the past 15 years, and about $8.3 billion in 2020, according to Technomic analysis.
In response to a request for comment on these numbers, Trevor Haynes, Subway’s president of North America, said in an emailed statement that “Subway is a private company and does not publicly disclose sales numbers.” “In the first half of 2021, on average, sales are doing well compared to pre-pandemic levels for 2019,” he added.
When Subway first came to prominence, it “dominated” customization, said Robert Byrne, director of consumer and industrial insight at Technomic. But the advent of casual fast food style has made customization the norm. Now, customers can make their own burritos, salads, sandwiches or dishes, making competition fierce. As more restaurants offer personalized options, “we want to continue … to dominate that space,” Chidsee said.
Chidsee noted that Subway’s research showed that customers want more innovation.
With this in mind, the company decided to “focus on raising the quality of the core ingredients, because with these core ingredients you can make an infinite number of sandwich combinations,” Chidsey said.
It’s not just about personalization. Perceptions of health and what is healthy [han] “From an ingredients point of view, I know consumers want to know more about sourcing,” Byrne said.
Questions have recently been raised about Subway tuna – a lawsuit claims that the Subway tuna sandwich is not actually made from that fish. The lawsuit has since been amended to claim that the tuna used by Subway is not made from 100% tuna and does not always use skipjack or yellowfin tuna. Subway called the original lawsuit “baseless” and said “the new allegations are false,” adding that “the lawsuit constitutes a reckless and inappropriate attack on the Subway brand.”
Subway continues to proudly introduce the product and says, “100% wild tuna remains a fan favorite.”
Tension in privileges
The update also has the potential benefit of satisfying franchise operators, some of whom have been demanding changes.
One measure of promotion success, Chidsee said, is a “revitalized franchise community.” “It is important to us internally.” He said franchisees are also demanding more innovation on the menu.
Some Subway franchise operators have publicly complained about the company’s treatment of them. In April, an anonymous group of “concerned franchisees” wrote an open letter to Elizabeth DeLuca, co-owner of the chain. They said Subway’s dream “turned into a nightmare,” and wrote that Subway damaged their business by franchising new locations nearby or closing stores for minor infractions, among other things. In a separate letter, they complained about the high franchise fee. Subway’s franchise rates are “competitive,” Trevor Haynes, President of Subway North America, said in an emailed statement.
“There are still some people unhappy with the past,” Chidsee said, referring to the franchisor’s complaints. “But I think if you talk to the vast majority of our franchisees, they will say we have had an incredible six-month streak,” he said, noting that higher sales are encouraging for franchisees. “Things are getting much better.” He added that the chain is focusing on increasing sales rather than the number of Subway restaurants in the United States.
Aligning the franchise operators with the company’s team is essential to transforming the company, said Byrne of Technomic. “I don’t think they can do anything until these two groups are on the same page.”