Subway, one of the world’s largest restaurant brands, has reported its ninth consecutive quarter of positive sales, marking an important milestone in its multi-year transformation journey. In the first quarter of 2023, the brand witnessed double-digit growth in global restaurant same-store sales, propelled by menu innovation, restaurant modernization, and enhancements to the overall guest experience, including its digital offerings.
According to the Q1 Global Results compared to the same period in 2022, Subway experienced a 12.1% increase in same-store sales and an 11.4% increase in digital sales. In North America, the company saw an 11.7% increase in same-store sales, with the top 75% of locations (approximately 17,000 restaurants) up 17.9%, and the top 50% of locations (about 11,500 restaurants) up 24.4%. Furthermore, digital sales in North America rose by 21.2%.
John Chidsey, CEO of Subway, said, “Our continued impressive performance demonstrates that our efforts to build a better Subway and win back the hearts and minds of sandwich lovers around the globe is working.” The brand also reported its highest weekly average unit volume (AUV) in the U.S. since 2010 at the start of the second quarter in April.
For small business owners and entrepreneurs, especially those in the food service industry, Subway’s strong sales momentum may serve as a case study for strategic growth and business transformation. The company’s focus on menu innovation, restaurant modernization, and enhanced guest experiences, particularly through digital channels, seems to have paid off.
Moreover, Subway’s success in boosting digital sales — which have more than quadrupled globally since the start of 2019 — offers a clear example of how businesses can leverage technology to improve customer experience and drive growth. Dedicated digital promotions in the U.S. have led to a surge of guests using the Subway app, strengthening the brand’s value proposition and potentially increasing profitability for many franchisees.
As Subway continues to build momentum, the company plans to introduce new menu items and digital enhancements in key markets globally in the coming months. The brand is also committed to smart growth to increase franchisee profitability and safeguard its market position. This includes strategically opening new traditional and non-traditional locations.
In North America, Subway recently announced five new multi-unit owner agreements, demonstrating the confidence that both new and existing operators have in the brand’s future. Internationally, Subway is partnering with established operators with specific market expertise to strategically expand its global footprint.
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