Subway confirmed on Tuesday that it’s exploring a potential sale.
J.P. Morgan is advising the company. The company said there’s no timeline or assurance that a sale will occur and that it will not make any further public comment until the process finishes. Subway is one of the world’s largest restaurant chains, with almost 37,000 stores across the world. It’s the biggest chain in terms of U.S. stores, with around 20,000.
“The management team remains committed to the future and will continue to execute against its multi-year transformation journey, which includes a focus on menu innovation, modernization of restaurants and improvements to its overall guest experience,” Subway said in a statement.
The Wall Street Journal reported the news back in mid-January. The publication said Subway could be valued at more than $10 billion. If the estimate is accurate and a transaction occurs, it would be the biggest restaurant deal since Inspire Brands in late 2020 purchased Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins for $11.3 billion.
Subway is coming off a 2022 in which it surpassed global sales projections and achieved eight straight quarters of positive same-store sales. Global comps lifted 9.2 percent year-over-year and 29.1 percent against 2020. The top 75 percent, about 17,000 restaurants, saw same-store sales grow 12.5 percent against 2021. These units also consistently beat decade-old weekly AUV benchmarks.
The brand’s improved financials have been fueled by a multi-year turnaround plan, headlined by multiple menu launches and a new development strategy that calls for more multi-unit operators as opposed to owners of one to two stores. About 8,500 locations in North America represent Subway’s “Fresh Forward” prototype, which features LED lighting, new floor coverings, containers, tables, colors, and chairs. Last year, 2,600 remodels were completed, and an additional 3,600 will switch over in 2023. Outside of North America, more than 5,300 restaurants have committed to the image revamp.
The news comes a few weeks after The Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation—the nonprofit founded by late cofounder Dr. Peter Buck and his wife—announced that he donated his 50 percent ownership stake to the organization. The family of Fred DeLuca, the cofounder who passed away in 2015, owns the other half of the company.