Riding the Subway!

Greg Madigan, area development manager for Subway UK and Ireland

The Subway brand has seen great success in the Irish and UK market. This month the company is celebrating its 2,000 store in this region. Fionnuala Carolan spoke with Greg Madigan, area development manager for Subway UK and Ireland about the success of this international brand



11 February 2015

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SUB Chicken Breast 9 Grain BreadSubway facts

  • The brand started in the US back in 1965 so celebrates its 50th anniversary this year
  • The first store was in Bridgeport, Conneticut, USA
  • The original owners still run the chain
  • The first store in the UK and Irish market opened in Brighton in 1996

Speaking about the opening of the 2,000th store in the UK and Ireland, Greg Madigan says that this milestone highlights the £200m investment that Subway franchisees contribute to their local economies, alongside providing over 20,000 jobs in stores across the region.

“The level of growth that the brand has experienced in the UK and Ireland is a fantastic achievement. It reflects the entrepreneurial spirit of Subway franchisees and development agents, together with the power and support of the global Subway brand.”

Madigan joined the group in his native Australia but moved to the UK to take over his current position last June. He explains that the company treats the UK and Ireland as one market but speaking about Ireland specifically he says: “We have 145 stores in the Republic of Ireland and 87 in Northern Ireland so that gives us 232. Last year we opened 19 stores in the Republic and that was part of the 269 stores opened right across the market. We’ve had very strong growth here.”

A growing brand

Subway is now the largest Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) brand worldwide. There are more than 43,000 Subway stores in over 105 countries. The UK and Ireland is Subway’s third largest market, behind the US and Canada. There are over 4,500 stores in Europe currently and Ireland and the UK represent around half of that.

“The continued expansion of the brand in the UK and Ireland has seen over 260 stores open in the last 12 months. That’s an average of five stores opening every week,” said Madigan.

Growth in non-traditional locations

Subway has opened its 2,000th store in the UK and Ireland in Hemel Hempstead, UKOne of the largest areas of growth for the Subway brand is the development of stores in non-traditional locations such as on forecourt sites, within convenience stores, universities and hospitals. Partnerships with organisations like Applegreen, Aramark and Sodexo have helped the brand to open more than 400 non-traditional locations in the UK and Ireland. According to Madigan, it’s a brand that works well alongside other brands.

“We have a strong corporate relationship with a number of brands. In Ireland our strongest is probably with Applegreen or Petrogas. We have 22 stores with them at present and eight stores in development currently. As well as that we’ve got a couple of stores with Aramark and with BWG we’ve got four corporate stores and a number of individual ones as well.”

He says that when two brands come together it allows them to go into a larger location and share it, which benefits both brands.

“Of the 2,000 stores, 440 of them across the whole market are non-traditional and it’s certainly an area we are focusing on quite heavily as it’s allowing us to get into markets where a traditional store couldn’t be supported like some of the smaller villages,” he explains.

Focus on health

Subway has always marketed itself as a health focused brand and it continues down this path with commitments to a number of initiatives in each region. “We are very heavily involved in the various government health initiatives in the UK, ” Madigan says. “On top of that we also have a partnership with Heart Research UK. Since 2012, we’ve reduced salt in the menu by 61% and in 2012 we also reduced saturated fat in our kid’s pack offering by 40%. There is a lot of work being done on our nutrition.”

Multi-store ownership

It’s quite common for Subway brand franchisees to own a number of outlets and this is something that is supported by the company. Over 70% of all new Subway franchises sold worldwide are sold to existing owners. Madigan explains how they support multi-store ownership.

“It’s one of the benefits of being with a big brand and we definitely encourage that and help the franchises build their own business,” he says.

“One of the key reasons to the success of the Subway brand is the support network and robust processes available to franchisees. Regional development agents and business consultants assist and mentor franchisees with site selection, leasing, design, construction, hands-on training, purchasing, operations, advertising, local store marketing and more. The support available to all franchisees has proved to be very successful with many franchisees investing in more than one franchise and becoming multi-store owners.”

A good example of this practice is the career trajectory of Christopher Seymour, the franchisee of the 2,000th Subway store in Hemel Hempstead. This is Seymour’s 12th store and he has another three in the pipeline for this year. Celebrating the milestone he says: “It feels fantastic to have opened the 2,000th Subway store in the UK and Ireland. It’s a great honour to be a part of such a big franchise, and I’m delighted that I’ve been able to contribute to its success.”





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