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Slammed In 2020, Subway Revamps Restaurants To Regain Ground

In response to a difficult 2020, the sandwich chain Subway is rolling out a number of major changes to its menu and making it easier to order online.


Though many fast-food chains did reasonably well during the coronavirus pandemic as takeout and drive-thru business increased to offset a decrease in in-store sales, Subway suffered a drop in business, since most of its restaurants do not have drive-thrus and the company didn't stress online ordering and pickup options.

The sandwich giant's sales fell to about $8.3B during 2020, down 18.5% compared with the year before, according to Technomic data. While Subway is still the largest restaurant chain by number of units, with over 22,000 U.S. locations, it closed a net of about 1,800 stores last year.

In sales, Subway came in at No. 8 last year, well behind such stalwarts as McDonald's, Starbucks and Chick-fil-A, though the company remains the top sandwich shop.

“Subway has sat on its laurels for so long; it’s kind of difficult to pull out of this hole,” Pacific Management Consulting Group principal John Gordon told Bloomberg. “The sales have fallen so much in the store.”

The company calls its revamp Eat Fresh Refresh and will be closing more than 10,000 locations nationwide on July 12 to facilitate the changes. When those restaurants reopen the next day, Subway will give away as many as a million sandwiches late in the morning. 

The more than 20 menu updates include new ingredients as well as new or revamped sandwiches. The chain is also introducing two new breads, artisan Italian and hearty multigrain, but it is not changing the composition of its tuna sandwiches.

The tuna is the subject of a class-action lawsuit in California that claimed Subway's tuna sandwiches “are completely bereft of tuna as an ingredient," though the suit was later amended to claim that the tuna wasn't “100% sustainably caught skipjack and yellowfin tuna.” Subway denies the allegations about its tuna sandwiches.

"Subway delivers 100 percent cooked tuna to its restaurants, which is mixed with mayonnaise and used in freshly made sandwiches, wraps and salads that are served to and enjoyed by our guests," the company told The New York Times.

The Subway app, which previously didn't offer delivery, will start doing so as part of the revamp. The updated app features a new dashboard, improved ordering flow and letting customers know about out-of-stock items, according to Subway. Subway Delivery is rolling out in some places, allowing customers to place delivery orders through the Subway app and

Related Topics: Subway, Subway chain