Subway co-founder Fred DeLuca’s success story started at age 17 when he opened his first sandwich shop as a way to put himself through college. Last month, the chain, which has a growing presence in South Africa with 14 stores, marked the opening of its 40 000th store. In an interview with Canada’s Globe & Mail, DeLuca elaborated on the challenges facing food franchises in these tough economic times. He believes finding ways to reach customers at a new time of day is one of the key strategies that any food retailer needs to consider. Some, like coffee focused brands are launching new products all the time in a bid to appear more health-conscious, other fast-food chains have begun adding sandwiches and wraps to their menus. He believes that a brand like Subway, which was amongst the first to present the idea that fast food could be relatively fresh and healthy, needs to stay true to that strategy on which the brand’s success was built. Another tradition that seems to buck the system and ‘amounts to a bad business model’, says DeLuca, is that of customers choosing their sandwich ingredients. “In our fast paced world, where everyone wants to get in, get their food and get out, it is surprising that our customers did not take to our pre-made sandwiches, preferring to have their sandwiches made their way, even though it’s the same food.” In 2010, Subway surpassed McDonald’s to become the world’s largest fast-food chain by store count when they opened in a gas station in Britain.
Reference: The Franchise Association of South Africa – www.fasa.co.za.