Roark Capital Closes Acquisition of Subway Restaurants Sandwich Chain

The private equity firm Roark Capital has closed its $9.55 billion purchase of Subway restaurants, despite opposition from critics who contended that adding Subway to Roark’s roster would consolidate too much of the sandwich market under one owner.

Subway announced the close of the sale April 30. It followed a Federal Trade Commission review into whether the sale of the Subway sandwich chain should go forward. Because Roark owns a bunch of other restaurant operators and franchises (including Subway rival Jimmy John’s), opponents lobbied the FTC to block the deal.

“We do not need another private equity deal that could lead to higher food prices for consumers,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said in late 2023, throwing her support behind the FTC investigation.

In announcing the deal’s close, Subway said the acquisition came on the heels of three years of sales growth and positive global net restaurant growth for the first time since 2016.

What’s the Average Income of a Subway Restaurant Franchise Owner?

Roark will pay about $9.6 billion for the sandwich chain, according to terms of the deal announced late last summer. Subway’s family owners had been hoping to fetch $10 billion when they put the company up for sale in February 2023.

Over the last year, Subway has chased sales growth in part by adding new menu items. In the last several months, the chain has introduced Subway Sidekicks, a new menu category, and a fresh lineup of signature wraps, served on a new lavash-style flatbread.

Another change the chain made was to require that all franchises accept digital coupons.

The Subway Sidekicks product is a collection of three snacks. The three new footlong snacks are a Subway chocolate chip cookie shaped into a long strip and big enough for four people, as well as footlong churros and pretzels.

The wraps are inspired by Middle Eastern cuisine, Subway said, and are served on lavash-style flatbread. The sandwich holds more ingredients than a wheat tortilla, giving Subway’s new wraps a footlong protein portion in a six-inch size, the chain said.

Roark’s bid to acquire Subway followed a rebound that saw Subway’s sales climb in 2022 and early 2023.

Credit for the turnaround goes in part to new marketing campaigns, including a recent, zany, “wait a minute, they did what?” campaign.

Subway’s summer promotion asking superfans to show their super fandom went so well that 10,000 people had moved to change their names legally to “Subway” in exchange for sandwiches for life.

The “Subway” name promotion is in line with the latest installment in what Subway calls its “multiyear transformation journey.” The company, which remains one of the world’s largest chain restaurant operations despite closing thousands of outlets in recent years, is under pressure to improve the bottom line both for itself and its individual franchise owners.

“This update is Subway’s most complex, investing more than $80 million to bring deli meat slicers to more than 20,000 U.S. restaurants and installing a slicer every five minutes over the course of nine months to get ready for this summer’s debut,” Subway said in a news release. “To showcase its new freshly sliced meats, Subway’s culinary team spent over a year crafting the recipes for its Deli Hero subs.”

Subway will select one winner at random from those nearly 10,000 people who vowed to adopt “Subway” as their first name. The winner will also get money to cover legal fees to complete the name change.

Subway is one of the largest restaurant chains in the world.

In an in-depth look at Subway and at how much an average Subway franchise owner makes, StartupNation found these key points:

  • Initial investment in a Subway franchise is often lower than outlays for other franchises: Expect a franchise fee of $15,000 plus an estimated $207,000 to $477,000 to invest in a store, according to Subway’s estimates.
  • Success depends not just on total sales, which can be affected by location, competition and other factors, but also on how well franchise owners manage labor, food and other costs.
  • The benefit of Subway is not in owning a Subway franchise so much as owning multiple Subway franchises, according to several Subway franchise owners who posted about their experience on the StartupNation community forum. Posters say that multi-unit owners get the most out of the experience.

In early 2023, Subway confirmed it had hired JPMorgan to explore a possible sale of the company. Coming off a strong 2022 that saw its same-store sales climb 9.2%, Subway said its strategy was paying off.

Related Posts
grow business online
Read More

21 Ways to Grow Your New Business Online

If you’re not growing your business online in the current climate, you will likely leave a lot of money on the table. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, everything from working to socializing to ordering and shopping...
Read More

How to Start a Loyalty Program in 5 Easy Steps

One of the best ways to grow your startup business it to create a loyalty program. Rewards programs remain one of the most efficient methods for startups to reward existing customers and keep them coming...