Founded by Fred de Luca in Connecticut in 1965, the Subway chain of sandwich shops was soon an expanding franchise operation. The first Australian Subway was a franchise that opened in Perth in 1988. The 1000th store opened in Tarneit, Victoria in February 2007. Australia is among the brand’s largest markets outside North America.
As of 2011, Subway had about 430 more outlets Australia-wide than McDonald’s, but only about 2% of takeaway market share vs Macca’s 19.5%. (IBIS World research).
Franchising magazine’s newsletter in 2008 profiled the operation and quoted the regional director responsible for the Australian and New Zealand business. He said that establishing the Australian Subway brand took around ten years, but after opening 130 stores people began to be aware of the chain as a healthier alternative to other fast foods.
Australia was the first market outside of North America to have 1000 Subway stores. By 2008, the chain accounted for 14 per cent of visits by Australians to a quick-service restaurant (QSR).
A Research International study conducted in October 2007 found that Subway was regarded as the number one healthy fast food outlet in the minds of Australian consumers. Subway has continued to market itself as a healthy choice, sponsoring the TV program The Biggest Loser and putting the focus on its subs that offer less than six grams of fat.
However, those health credentials vary depending on which Australian Subway offering you go for. At around 2000 kilojoules, the 6-inch meatball sub just squeaks in as better than McDonald’s Big Mac (2180 kilojoules). And if you opt for a footlong it’s way over.
There is speculation that as our concept of healthy food changes, Subway’s position could be threatened. Certainly, now we’re all getting carb-conscious low-fat is a harder sell. Perhaps the answer lies in extra convenience. Subway now has more than 20 drive-through stores, providing a healthier on-the-go option. And at least they don’t serve fries with that.