inside Subway’s shrinking Australian business

Accounts obtained by The Sunday Age and The Sun-Herald recorded income of €77.6 million ($128.1 million) for Australia in 2017 down from €88.four million in 2016. The monetary outcomes don’t present particulars of revenue by nation.


Subway’s points in Australia echo worldwide issues for the model after the death of Subway’s billionaire founder Fred DeLuca in 2015 and the conviction of Subway ambassador Jared Fogle for baby intercourse and pornography offences.

A current New York Times investigation uncovered falling income, a shrinking store rely and bullying of franchisees within the United States.

A Subway spokesperson stated it had 1353 shops throughout Australia, together with these briefly closed for renovation, and had “no intention” of decreasing its footprint.

“While Subway anticipates restaurant growth over the coming year, it will only consider new sites where they are commercially viable,” the spokesperson stated.

Trying to get out

Consumers on the lookout for more healthy meals are bypassing Subway and the franchise is making an attempt to reinvent itself in a low-carb world including menu gadgets comparable to wraps and rye bread.

“Over the past 10 years, the tastes and the palates of our Australian guests have changed quite significantly, and what they’re looking for, for their lunch or for their dinner has changed as well,” Subway’s spokesperson stated.

Local Subway franchisees declare they’re struggling to outlive and a big quantity try to promote their shops.

The web site Commercial Real Estate lists 125 Australian Subway shops on the market with costs starting from $98,000 to $495,000.

The Sunday Age and The Sun-Herald  has spoken to numerous franchisees who complained about their remedy by the chain however none would converse out publicly because of worry of retribution.

One Subway franchisee who has their store on the market for $150,000, half the worth she purchased it for 3 years in the past.

The firm has been making an attempt to reposition its providing to maintain clients who’re in search of more healthy choices.

“I cannot cover my salary, I work 50 to 60 hours a week just to run the store,” she stated.

“Some weeks I work for free, especially when it is raining and in winter some months it is very bad. I am very stressed at the moment.”

Adding to this strain are renovations mandated by Subway in a bid to spice up its flagging fortunes.

In the US, Subway is contributing to the price of these refurbishments however in Australia franchisees are anticipated to fund the refurbishment themselves.

My life is hell now. I’m caught.


The franchisee stated the renovation, a part of Subway’s “360-degree brand transformation”, will value her about $200,000.

“The renovation clause is very high to renovate the store,” she stated. “I cannot afford it. I am in too much debt at the moment I have taken out a lot of personal loans to survive. If I take another loan from the bank I cannot pay as it is too high. My life is hell now. I am stuck.”


A spokesperson for Subway stated it was within the means of opening “next-generation flagship Subway restaurants” throughout the nation and by the top of the yr anticipated 20 per cent of its shops will adjust to its “bold and vibrant design”.

The franchisee stated she is struggling to draw consumers for her store in consequence.

“I have only had one or two inquiries. They can see so many stores for sale they know there is something happening with Subway,” she stated. “I can’t lie to them.”

Another franchisee stated it was troublesome to fund refurbishments when efficiency had been poor prior to now few years.


“The refurbishment is hurting the business,” he stated.

Franchisees additionally complained concerning the restricted suppliers who might undertake the renovations.

“The renovations are to be done only through Subway-approved shopfitters whose prices are almost double other reputed companies,” a 3rd franchisee stated.


Adding to the monetary pressure, franchisees stated Subway head workplace employees always pushed new merchandise and gear on franchisees.

The franchisees complained they have been pressured into shopping for Grinders coffee machines by means of Coca-Cola at a money funding of about $5000 every which had now been “almost junked” by most Subways.

The franchisee together with her business available on the market stated she purchased a coffee machine however was unable to promote even one coffee a day.

“That machine is now in the cupboard and they have introduced a new panini press which has to be on the counter,” she stated. “They push every time to buy new things, new things, you have to buy this and that. We are not making money we are just surviving.”

In a submission to parliament’s franchising inquiry final yr, Subway franchisee Paul Cherniakov stated franchisees are pressured to purchase inferior merchandise at exorbitant costs solely for Subway to obtain rebates.

They push each time to purchase new issues, new issues, you need to purchase this and that.

Maria Driscoll

These merchandise included Subway dishwashing liquid priced at $7 a litre when dishwashing liquid was obtainable on the grocery store for $1 a litre and a thermometer charged at $250 when an equal was bought elsewhere for $30.

Loyalty app

Subway franchisees pay eight per cent of income to Subway as a licence payment alongside an promoting levy of four.5 per cent, nevertheless franchisees at the moment are dealing with a further value after Subway launched a loyalty program this yr referred to as the SubCard App.

Franchisees should pay $49.90 per 30 days per store for this system alongside 1.5 per cent of complete gross sales for this system, which franchisees say will value most shops round $10,000 a yr.

Subway was the subject of a complaint to parliament's inquiry into the Franchising Code of Conduct.

Subway was the topic of a grievance to parliament’s inquiry into the Franchising Code of Conduct. Credit:Wayne Taylor

The system replaces present loyalty playing cards and franchisees say they’ve been approached by Subway employees and advised if they don’t be a part of this system they are going to be marked out of compliance and pushed out of business.

“Suddenly they introduced a new loyalty card and each week they are taking from my account $100 to $150 to make the customer happy,” the promoting franchisee stated.

“I can’t see the future any more.”


Franchisees additionally complain that it’s troublesome to go away Subway.

One stated he was “forced out” of the franchise after he and his brother tried to promote two of the seven shops they operated.

He stated he discovered consumers for the 2 shops at $1.5 million for every store however Subway head workplace blocked the sale.

“Subway made it very very difficult for us to sell our business,” he stated. “They kept on rejecting people.”

He stated the consumers walked away and each shops have been re-possessed by landlords, leaving him and his brother with nothing.

“This is absolutely bullying and you have no idea how much stress we went through,” he stated.

‘No apology for innovating’

Not all franchisees are sad with Subway with a number of the franchisees interviewed by The  SundayAge and The Sun-Herald supporting the modifications.

Franchisee Ria Edmonds listed her Subway store within the Melbourne suburb of Brighton on the market for $150,000 however stated she could be very glad.

“It’s a system that works and there is a lot of back-up with the system,” she stated.

A spokesperson for Subway stated it rejected any claims that franchise house owners are pressured to shut or to refurbish their eating places.

“Subway makes no apology for innovating to increase the profitability of franchise owners and adapting to the changing needs of Australians,” the spokesperson stated.

“Refurbishment time frames and arrangements are developed in consultation with owners and are substantially less costly than other fast-food brands, with packages starting from $50,000.”

Subway denies it is reducing its store count.

Subway denies it’s decreasing its store rely. Credit:Wayne Taylor

Meeting for an interview at one in every of Subway’s refurbished shops within the shadow of Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station, Amanda Templeton, nationwide public relations supervisor for Subway in Australia, was constructive concerning the “brand transformation” Subway was enterprise.

Ms Templeton stated Subway is “working closely with franchise owners” who she stated supported the necessity for renovations.

When requested whether or not there was any resistance from franchisees to the modifications that are “the biggest in Subway’s 30-year history in this country”, Ms Templeton stated “not that I’m aware of”.

“I think you’ll find that many franchise owners are very happy to make these changes to update their restaurants because they are seeing the impact and the excitement of our guests around that,” she stated.

“At the end of the day, we realise that we need to continue evolving, because Australians’ tastes are evolving.”

Tomorrow: Subway faces claims of underpayment. 

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