With 39,000 Locations Around the World, Subway Shows No Signs of Slowing Down
No. 6 Subway — It is the industry behemoth. The Subway sandwich chain is now the world’s largest restaurant chain in terms of number of locations. Even as Franchise Chatter compiled this list of top franchises, Subway announced it had more than 2,000 franchisees actively searching for locations and planned to add 3,000 locations worldwide in 2013.
To put things in perspective, Subway recently reached a milestone of 39,000 locations in 102 countries. That figure is staggering enough; but just since January 2013, it has opened about 800 new stores in 54 countries, nine Canadian provinces, 46 U.S. states, and the District of Columbia. The final figure that boggles the mind is that Subway franchisees lease nearly 47 million square feet of property around the globe.
When it comes to the king of the sandwich sector, there’s no doubt that Subway wears the crown. With an “eat fresh” tag line as recognizable as its name, the franchise has phenomenal brand awareness among consumers and probably the strongest marketing and advertising campaign of all its competitors. Those are pluses for potential franchisees.
But how long can the chain sustain such growth before saturating every market? There seems to be a Subway on every corner and prime locations in most markets are likely already taken. Which is why the company is No. 6 on the Franchise Chatter list.
Moreover, “freshness” and value—key to the Subway brand— are now being touted by competitors even outside the sandwich sector, such as Chipotle and Moe’s Southwest Grill. In one consumer survey last year, Panera was rated the No. 1 favorite sandwich chain, while Subway took the No. 8 spot.
The brand also took a beating when its popular $5 promotion was challenged via social media with photos that showed the advertised footlong as being shorter than 12 inches.
Still, Subway is the company that other sandwich franchises aspire to be and it is considered a good value for new franchisees, with estimated initial investment costs ranging from $85,700 to $262,850, depending on whether the location is traditional or non-traditional.
As far as dwindling real estate, the company asserts that “a Subway restaurant can operate just about anywhere,” as evidenced by current units inside factories, car showrooms, museums, churches, and a growing number of Walmart stores.
To read about the next franchise on our list of Top 10 Sandwich Franchises for 2013, please click here.
To read about the previous name on our list, please click here.