Subway's lineup of new signature sandwiches is producing nearly double-digit sales increases and the highest AUV its seen in years, building off of record marks set last year.
In July, the chain revealed its "Subway Series," or 12 sandwiches with preset ingredients that can be ordered by name or number. The items come in four categories—Cheesesteaks, Italianos, Chicken, and Clubs—with each housing three choices; i.e. the Cheesesteak segment includes No. 1 The Philly, No. 2 The Outlaw, and No. 3 The Monster.
During Subway Series' eight-week launch window, same-store sales grew 7.4 percent compared to last year's Eat Fresh Refresh, which was heralded as Subway's biggest menu update in company history. The top three quartiles of restaurants (roughly 15,000 locations), were up more than 12 percent year-over-year. In the third quarter, comps lifted 8.4 percent, and soared to almost 11 percent in September versus 2021. The top three quartiles saw same-store sales grow 13.8 percent in Q3 and roughly 18 percent in September.
In addition, Subway consistently beat its AUV per week records from 2012.
“The results from the Subway Series launch and the positive reaction from guests and franchisees demonstrates that our transformation strategy is working,” Trevor Haynes, president of Subway North America, said in a statement. “As we continue to evolve from a default choice to a destination for our guests, our priority remains working alongside our franchisees to find new and exciting opportunities to elevate the guest experience and drive profitability and traffic.”
The announcement follows a successful 2021, in which the Eat Fresh Refresh—11 new and improved ingredients, six new or returning sandwiches, and four revamped signature sandwiches—helped Subway beat annual sales by almost $1.4 billion and eclipse its highest annual AUV since 2014. The best 15,000 restaurants saw a 7.5 percent rise in same-store sales versus 2019. During that time, Subway also reduced friction in its mobile app and launched delivery through its digital platforms in partnership with DoorDash. The sandwich brand's digital sales surpassed $1.3 billion in 2021, more than triple 2019's efforts.
“Our guests and my team members have been reinvigorated by the launch of Eat Fresh Refresh and Subway Series,” Donna Curry, a multi-unit Subway franchisee, said in a statement. “We are hearing from guests that they like the flexibility of ordering by name and number and are enjoying the new Subway Series sandwiches, which is reflected in the increased traffic and sales across my restaurants.”
The menu innovation is part of a bigger effort to reimagine Subway's branding. In terms of development, the franchisor is refocusing its domestic growth to multi-unit operators who own other restaurant chains as opposed single-store franchisees. The 100 percent franchised concept finished 2021 with 21,147 U.S. outlets, a net decrease of 3,650 units versus 2019—that number alone would be among the top 15 biggest fast-food chains in America. Subway is still the largest restaurant in America in terms of footprint, but McDonald's is now the global leader. Internationally, the brand has signed nine master franchisees with more than 5,300 restaurant commitments.