- Subway has enhanced its catering program with an “easy order” option where guests can choose from pre-selected options; pickup and delivery, regardless of the size of the event; and upgraded packaging, the company announced Tuesday.
- The sandwich chain also debuted on ezCater, a large, national catering marketplace, to expand its reach.
- Demand for catering, which fell dramatically during the pandemic, has grown throughout the last year, “spurred by a return to in-office operations and increased gatherings,” Subway North America President Trevor Haynes said in the press release.
As events start to make a comeback catering is likely to benefit significantly. A recent survey from TravelPerk found that 88% of companies are planning in-person events this year, for instance. The Knot projects that as many as 2.6 million weddings will take place this year, versus 1.7 million in 2020, while family and large group gatherings have also started to return. As such, other chains like Outback Steakhouse and Fuzzy’s Taco Shop have introduced or expanded catering.
Subway’s focus on ease and convenience, as well as its value proposition, should position the chain favorably as a catering choice. In a statement, Jenn Saunders-Haynes, Subway's director of catering, said the enhancements were developed to improve the guest experience with a simplified ordering process and reduced wait time.
Further, Subway’s partnership with ezCater positions the chain to be one of the largest catering providers on the marketplace, which includes more than 93,000 restaurants and caterers. This presence should provide easier access for customers looking for a simplified catering solution, and expand reach for franchisees who offer the program, Subway said.
Saunders-Haynes also expects the program to produce incremental sales for Subway’s franchisees. Catering has done just that for other chains, including Moe’s Southwest Grill, which averaged a 15% increase in sales at restaurants that offer catering.
One potential challenge with catering’s resurgence is the channel’s need for staff. The industry is grappling with a labor shortage and Subway is hoping to hire 50,000 new workers in time for the summer rush.
If the chain is able to staff its catering program, it could experience continued momentum. The company said its 2021 sales exceeded projections by almost $1.4 billion and generated its highest annual system average unit volume since 2014. The company also said last week that it is shifting its franchisee strategy from single-unit operators to multi-unit franchisees, which could bring in greater operating expertise, development capabilities and capital.