Subway’s new snack menu satiating appetite for growth, CEO says

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    Americans’ appetite for eating fresh at Subway has surged, thanks to menu innovation and restaurant renovations, its chief said. 

    “When we started our turnaround about three years ago, we laid out a plan to really turn this into much more of a guest experience, restaurant-focused brand. And I think all the things we’ve done around menu innovation, quality, we’ve now got over half of the restaurants remodeled,” Subway CEO John Chidsey said on “Mornings with Maria” Monday.

    “That’s all led to 12 straight quarters of same-store sales growth,” he continued, “which we haven’t done in a decade or longer.”

    Subway has the most store locations out of any other fast food chain in the U.S., and has signed on celebrity spokespeople in recent years like Patrick Mahomes, Jimmy Garoppolo, Serena Williams and Derek Jeter – to name a few.

    MEAT SUBSTITUTES MARKET EXPECTED TO BOOM BY 2028, WITH PROJECTED GROWTH ESTIMATED AT $4.4 BILLION

    But the chain has gained notoriety in recent weeks following the roll-out of their new menu, “Sidekicks,” which includes foot-long cookies, churros and pretzels in collaboration with Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s. According to the CEO, 3.5 million Sidekicks were sold in the first two weeks.

    Subways new Sidekicks menu items

    Subways new “Sidekicks” menu items have sold 3.5 million units in the first two weeks. (Getty Images)

    “You’ve got to have quality, you have to have crave, and I think a lot of our menu innovation ties in nicely,” Chidsey said. “Sidekicks is [sic] a perfect example. Day-part snacking is not something that Subway’s really ever focused on, so we decided, let’s build an incremental day-part that will really help drive traffic.”

    In a press release last week, Subway noted there’s particularly high demand for the foot-long cookie, resulting in the chain “rushing” to get additional supply.

    The cookie has been removed from select third-party food delivery apps in local markets, including DoorDash, Uber Eats and Postmates.

    Subway also saw double-digit growth in global digital sales in 2023, with 21.8% increase alone in North America.

    “We’ve signed 15 master franchise agreements, and we have a backlog of over 9,000 restaurants to be built internationally. We’ll sign another three to six deals this year. So I’m hoping that backlog will be closer to 12 or 13,000 by the end of the year,” the CEO claimed.

    “While I’m very happy that we have 12,000 restaurants re-imagined and remodeled in the last few years,” Chidsey added, “that’s only 50%. So we need to get the other 10,000 to 12,000 in the U.S. and Canada done.”

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    And although Subway was sold to Roark Capital for billions of dollars in August, the CEO pointed out that new ownership won’t go into effect until the second quarter of 2024.

    “They’re going to keep the asset as a standalone entity. So in terms of our strategy, sort of our plan over the last couple of years, we’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing irrespective of who owns the company.”

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