Subway is making the biggest menu change in its history in an attempt to win back old customers and attract new ones.
Subway locations across the U.S. are set to unveil an updated menu next week, which includes improved items across the board, as well as brand-new recipes and toppings for the chain’s multigrain bread.
As part of the menu change, Subway’s bacon will now be hickory-smoked, and its turkey and ham will be sliced more thinly. The new menu will also bring back old favorites like rotisserie-style chicken and roast beef.
To convince people to try the new ingredients, thousands of Subway restaurants will be giving away up to 1 million sandwiches for free between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. on July 13th. Subway is also revamping the appearance of its app and is teaming up with DoorDash to allow customers to order delivery directly from the Subway app.
“We want to make a loud enough bang … to draw those people back to give us another look,” Subway CEO John Chidsey told CNN of their decision to make massive changes to its menu.
Based on the data obtained by foodservice research and consultant firm Technomic, sales at U.S. Subway restaurants have been declining in recent years. According to the company’s analysis, system-wide sales at Subway locations in the country were $12.3 billion in 2013 ― the best year in the past 15 years ― and about $8.3 billion last year.
Research conducted by Subway found that customers wanted more innovation, so the chain, as noted by Chidsey, decided to “focus on raising the quality of the core ingredients, since with those core ingredients you can make almost an infinite number of sandwich combinations.”
Subway is also hoping to please franchise operators with its updated menu. Chidsey said that one metric of the chain’s massive menu change is a “re-energized franchisee community,” as franchisees have been calling for significant changes for years.
For instance, a number of Subway franchise operators have complained publicly that Subway is hurting their businesses by franchising new locations near existing ones or closing down stores for minor infractions, among other reasons. Some franchisees have also aired their grievances over high franchise fees.
Reacting to franchise operators’ complaints, Chidsey said: “There are still a few people who are disgruntled about the past. But I would think that if you talk to the vast majority of our franchisees, they’d say we’ve had a hell of a six-month run. Things are improving rather dramatically.”
Chidsey also noted that the chain’s primary focus is to grow sales rather than open more locations in the country.