Subway announced Tuesday that it closed a deal to sell itself to Roark Capital.

The Wall Street Journal previously reported that the agreement was worth around $9.6 billion. It officially marks the biggest transaction since Inspire Brands purchased Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins for $11.3 billion about three years ago. Roark is not only invested in Inspire (parent of Arby’s, Baskin Robbins, Buffalo Wild Wings, Dunkin’, Jimmy John’s, and Sonic), but also GoTo Foods (Auntie Anne’s, Carvel, Cinnabon, Jamba, McAlister’s, Moe’s, and Schlotzsky’s), The Cheesecake Factory, Hardee’s, Carl’s Jr., and Culver’s. The Atlanta-based firm has $35 billion in assets under management. Since its inception, affiliates have acquired 105 franchise/multi-unit location brands that generate $70 billion in revenue across about 67,700 locations. 

There are no anticipated changes to Subway’s leadership team, strategic focus, or operating plans in connection with the sale. It will be kept separate from Roark’s other brands.

“The entire Subway system is excited that our sale to Roark is complete,” Subway CEO John Chidsey said in a statement. “As we look to our future, our growth journey is far from over. With a continued strategic focus on delivering better food and a better guest experience, our next chapter will be the most exciting yet.”

Subway joins Roark on a hot streak. Last year, the brand experienced positive global net growth for the first time since 2016—mostly due to increasing international expansion. In the U.S., Subway has lost around 7,000 restaurants since the start of 2016. However, the decreases appear to be getting less severe. The brand closed a net of 1,043 shops in 2021, 571 in 2022, and 443 in 2023.

The brand sits at nearly 37,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries. It is the third-largest restaurant chain in the world, following McDonald’s and Starbucks. In the U.S., it has over 20,000 units, making it the largest chain domestically in terms of footprint.

More than 18,000 units worldwide were updated to the brand’s contemporary image as of February, including 12,000-plus in North America. A record 4,000 remodels were completed in the region in 2023. Subway’s global same-store sales rose 6.4 percent in 2023 year-over-year. In North America, comps lifted 5.9 percent, with the top 75 percent (17,000 units) up 10.1 percent. Subway finished 2023 with 12 straight quarters of positive same-store sales. Global and North American digital sales increased double digits in 2023, aided by the enhancement of the chain’s loyalty program, Subway MVP Rewards.

Sales are fueled in part by constant menu innovation, including the introduction of Subway Sidekick desserts and a fresh lineup of signature wraps on a new lavash-style flatbread.

Fast Food, Finance, Franchising, Sandwiches, Story, Subway