Subway says its menu refresh boosted sales to an 8-year high. It added new sandwiches, new bread options, and a parmesan vinaigrette.

Subway new ingredients turkey
Subway updated its menu in July. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
  • Subway says its US sales hit an eight-year high after it revamped its menu in July.
  • The revamp included six new or returning sandwiches and two new bread options.
  • Some franchisees have said that Subway’s new ads and overhauled menu aren’t enough to fix the chain.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Subway says weekly sales hit an eight-year high after what its CEO called the brand’s biggest-ever menu refresh.

The sandwich chain updated its menu in July with 11 new and improved ingredients, six new or returning sandwiches, and four revamped sandwiches. It added two new bread options – artisan italian and hearty multigrain – and a parmesan vinaigrette to its menu.

Subway said Tuesday that its US restaurants had their highest average weekly sales in more than eight years on the week its new menu came out. August sales were the company’s highest for the month since 2013, it said. Sales were up more than 4% compared to the same period in 2019, before the pandemic started, it said.

At the top-performing 25% of its US restaurants, sales were on average a third higher in August 2021 compared to August 2019, it said.

“The journey to build a better Subway has begun, and the changes are having a positive impact on restaurant sales,” Subway CEO John Chidsey said in a press release.

But data suggests that even as sales have risen, the number of customers visiting Subway’s stores hasn’t changed much.

Subway store visits were up 0.7% in July and down 1.5% in August compared to 2019, according to Placer.ai, a firm that tracks foot traffic at retailers and restaurants. Sandwich rivals such as Jersey Mike’s, Jimmy John’s, and Firehouse Subs, on the other hand, had an uptick in August traffic compared to 2019, Placer.ai data shared with Insider showed.

Some franchisees blasted Subway’s menu revamp promotion

To promote the menu revamp, Subway had said it would give away 1 million six-inch Turkey Cali Fresh subs on July 13.

Insider’s Nancy Luna reported that some franchisees called the promotion a flop, and said that fewer people than expected showed up to claim a free sandwich.

“We had expectations that they were going to blow us out the door,” one operator told Insider. “Well, we just had the opposite problem. It was a giant letdown.”

Subway told Insider that the event “beat” expectations. “Overall, restaurants saw a significant lift in sales and traffic,” the spokesperson said.

Subway splashed out on advertising for the menu overhaul, including TV ads with sports legends such Charles Barkley, Serena Williams, and Megan Rapinoe. But some franchisees told Insider’s Luna that pricey celebrity ads and a revamped menu weren’t enough to fix the chain, which has reported an overall drop in sales since the death of cofounder Fred DeLuca in 2015.

Do you work for Subway or are you a franchisee? Contact Nancy Luna via encrypted messaging app Signal at +1 (714) 875-6218 using a nonwork phone, email at [email protected], or Twitter DM at @FastFoodMaven