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Subway says August sales were the strongest in 8 years, cites new menu


A Subway Restaurant location in New York, U.S., on Friday, July 2, 2021.

Getty Images Subway is enjoying early success.| Bloomberg | Getty Images

Subway’s menu overhaul is yielding early success for the sandwich chain.

It announced Tuesday that its August U.S. restaurant sales were the strongest since 2013. Now, it projects it will exceed its year-end sales targets by more than $1B.

Subway opened its U.S. stores in mid-July and offered nearly 12 new or enhanced ingredients as well as 10 new or original sandwiches. Subway’s menu overhauls, which had been in progress for two years now, played a major role in its comeback. The company’s chefs created new sandwich bread, improved the protein selections and added toppings such as smashed Avocado to existing products.

These results, released Tuesday by Subway, are an indication that their turnaround plan is successful and a victory lap for the company. The privately-owned business doesn’t need to report its monthly sales results.

Subway’s average weekly unit volume was at its highest level in eight years when the updated menu and improved ingredients were launched nationwide. U.S. restaurant revenues rose by more than 4% in August over the past two years. Subway saw its top 25 restaurants see their sales rise by more than a third and 75% reported an average 14% increase in their overall footprint.

“Our loyal regulars – in addition to many first-time guests – are commenting to our team that they taste a real difference in our new sandwiches and ingredients,” said Subway franchisee David Liseno in a statement.

Subway was struggling to get its feet under control for years before Fred DeLuca, the founder of Subway died in 2015. Subway was the first American chain to reach a $5 footlong agreement during 2008’s financial crisis. This led to huge expansion and helped it become one of the biggest in terms of number of outlets. But new rivals like Chipotle Mexican Grill lured consumers away, and its large footprint led to sales cannibalization among its remaining customers. The result was that franchisees were in constant conflict with each other. This led to a decline in sales. These ugly battles became headline-grabbing.

Subway’s parent company, Doctor’s Associates, reported 2020 revenue of $689.1 million, down 28% from 2019′s net sales of $958.9 million, according to franchisee disclosure documents. Since 2016, Subway’s massive stores have been shrinking steadily. End 2020, the sandwich chain was home to 22,201 U.S. outlets.