Subway’s 2024 is off to a hot start thanks to its new Sidekicks platform, the company announced Thursday.

Debuting in January, the menu features Subway Footlong Cookies, Cinnabon Footlong Churros, and Auntie Anne’s Footlong Pretzels. More than 3.5 million items were sold in two weeks.

“Sidekicks are a big hit with guests and the latest proof that Subway is a remarkably different brand than it was when we began our transformation journey three years ago—and we’re not slowing down,” CEO John Chidsey said in a statement. “Our consistent positive sales results and the renewed enthusiasm from guests around the world is a true testament to our team’s commitment and the changes we’ve made across every part of our business.”  

The menu innovation followed a 2023 in which global same-store sales rose 6.4 percent 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.


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In terms of development, Subway is experiencing net positive global growth for the first time since 2016. Entering 2024, 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. Future growth will be spearheaded by international markets. Globally, the chain has inked 15 major franchise deals over the last couple of years, resulting in over 9,000 restaurant commitments spanning across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

Domestically, where thousands of locations have closed over the past several years, development will focus on restaurants being in the right location, image, and format and operated by the right franchisees. Subway shifted its franchising philosophy to allow larger, multi-concept operators into the system. Beforehand, the sandwich chain preferred small franchisees that didn’t own any chain outside of the system.

Also, more than 18,000 units worldwide are updated to the brand’s contemporary image, including 12,000-plus in North America. A record 4,000 remodels were completed in the region in 2023.

Last year marked a major change in Subway’s history, with the chain selling itself to Roark Capital for around $10 billion. It was yet another step in the multi-year evolution of the brand, which has rolled out a big piece of menu innovation annually for the past three years. For 2023, it was the launch of Deli Heroes and the rollout of meat slicers in every restaurant. The chain spent over $80 million so that U.S. franchisees could receive the equipment for free. The items are part of the Subway Series, a menu of signature sandwiches that can be ordered by name or number. 

The company said it plans to lean into the momentum it experienced in 2023.

“Guests can expect exciting new menu items at a great value, as well as enhancements to their in-restaurant, online and in-app experience, with even more convenience for the on-the-go consumer,” Subway said in a news release.

Franchising, Growth, Sandwiches, Story, Subway