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  • Founded on Fresh: Subway builds on its long history with new initiatives and worldwide growth

    Subway was founded in 1965 when 17-year-old Fred de Luca borrowed $1,000 from a family friend to launch Pete’s Super Submarines. What started as a small Connecticut sandwich shop quickly grew into what is now a global behemoth serving over 7 million customers in 112 countries every day. Attracting consumers and franchisees from all over the world, Subway offers both freshness and customization as pillars of the chain, which is poised for more growth.

    Many of the company’s franchisees come from the ranks of its loyal customers, including patrons travelling from abroad who come to the U.S. and fall in love with the brand. This is helping to fuel the company’s expanding reach in other parts of the globe.

    “We are growing exponentially, especially outside of North America,” says Don Fertman, chief marketing officer for Subway. “As a global brand, we are looking to grow internationally.”

    The Subway brand comes with a strong legacy, but the company’s success hinges on its adaptability and continued evolution, such as in its renewed commitment to freshness. Though fresh vegetables and breads have been central to the brand from the beginning, the company has pledged to remove additives from several key products over the next several years.

    “We’ve [already] taken out artificial flavors and colors in our cookies, and we made a commitment that by the end of 2016, any chicken we serve would antibiotic free, which we’ve met,” Fertman says. “By the end of 2018, our turkey will be antibiotic free, and by 2025, we will be able to serve antibiotic-free pork and beef.”

    This move, along with an updated logo and new products and marketing set to appear this spring, will help keep the brand’s image fresh and drive traffic to franchisee stores. In addition, Subway gives franchisees some latitude to add location-centric offerings that drive local traffic. “On the West Coast, for example, stores might add avocado to a sandwich,” Fertman says. 

    Subway recently launched Subway Digital, a new team dedicated to help transform the guest experience through the integration of digital tools, such as a refreshed mobile app and loyalty program focused on improving the guest experience. The Milford-based team is seeking top digital and technology talent to fill 75 roles for the Subway Digital Team this year.

    With its substantial growth plans, Subway is always looking for franchisees, especially ones who are dedicated to the brand. “We certainly want people with financial wherewithal,” Fertman says, “but when we speak with people, we want them to be excited and passionate about the brand.”

    Subway offers flexible store footprints, with stores that can be added to virtually any location. “We can put stores everywhere, from A-to-Z," Fertman jokes, “from airports to zoos.”

    The brand already has 10,917 non-traditional locations that make up 25 percent of the restaurant count and are the company’s largest area of growth. This includes 4,644 locations in c-stores; 1,949 in Wal-Marts; 489 in colleges and universities; 360 on military bases; 331 in hospitals; 244 in bus and railroad terminals; 224 in airports; and 159 in highway rest areas.

    “Being part of this family for 35 years, I’ve seen the company grow, and it’s been an amazing ride,” Fertman says, “In a way, even with our number of locations, we’re just beginning, because it’s an amazing world to grow in, and there are so many opportunities.”

    For more information about franchising opportunities with Subway , visit