When it comes to doorstep delivery, Subway has lagged compared to its largest rivals.
But, now the world’s largest restaurant chain is finally jumping on the off-premise bandwagon. The Milford, Conn.-based company said it has established partnerships with four of the nation’s largest third-party delivery operators, who will deliver from 9,000 Subway restaurants in the U.S.
Expansion beyond 9,000 units is imminent as the company is working with the fastest-growing delivery operators in the country: Uber Eats, Grubhub, DoorDash and Postmates.
Michael Lang, Subway’s senior director of global convenience, said customers will still be able to order a customized, made-to-order sandwich through delivery. It is part of a handful of initiatives Subway has introduced over the last two years to increase profitability for its franchisees.
That plan has also included relocating restaurants to better locations, modernizing stores and adding new flavors and ingredients to regional menus.
Subway is one of the first of the big fast food brands to spread its partnerships among the major delivery operators, who are battling for dominance in the fragmented delivery sector.
Most chains typically partner with one or two operators. McDonald’s, for example, uses Uber Eats as its main delivery partner while KFC and Taco Bell work with Grubhub. Earlier this year, Yum! Brands, the parent company of the latter two brands, took a $200 million stake in the Chicago-based company, which has delivery partnerships with 85,000 restaurants.
Chipotle Mexican Grill recently launched delivery, powered by DoorDash, through its own mobile app as well as its website. The Newport Beach, Calif. based chain also works with Postmates.
This week, Noodles & Company expanded its partnership with DoorDash, which now offers delivery in 300 of the brand's restaurants. DoorDash is available in 70 national markets.
Delivery expansion by Subway comes as the restaurant industry faces a decline in restaurant visits.
Casual-dining and quick-service chains have invested in off-premise digital sales to address growing demand for at-home dining.
According to the latest research from The NPD Group, delivery visits are up 10 percent and sales are up 20 percent since 2012. The majority of that growth is coming from digital orders, which account for 52 percent of all delivery, up from just 27 percent in 2012.
Subway has about 44,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries. Of those, nearly 26,000 are in the U.S.
Contact Nancy Luna at [email protected]
Follow her on Twitter: @FastFoodMaven