The Subway® brand has recently announced plans to grow the number of stores across the South Coast (Hampshire, Isle of Wight and East and West Sussex) by more than 20 by the end of 2018. With 109 stores already open in the region, the individual tasked with delivering this growth is Regional Development Agent, Mark Bradley.
Mark explains: “The Subway® brand has a long-established relationship with the South Coast, having opened its first ever store in the UK in Brighton in 1996. That store is still open and operating successfully and, over the years, we have opened over 100 additional new stores. Our target for the next 18 months is to add in excess of 20 more stores, creating opportunities for would-be entrepreneurs keen to run their own business, as well as adding over 200 new jobs to the region.”
Mark is a long-standing stalwart of the Subway® brand and has worked in a variety of roles across the business for some 19 years. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Mark was tempted to join the Subway® brand when visiting the UK as part of a backpacking trip around the world. Mark said: “During High School, I ran my own fudge stand at the weekend markets. I went on to manage a fish and chip shop in my local neighbourhood, before moving to Kyoto in Japan, where I helped run a local bakery specialising in products for wheat and yeast allergy sufferers. Rather ironically, I developed an allergy to flour, so was forced to re-think my future plans. That’s when my wife and I decided to backpack around the world for a couple of years.
“During our travels, we often found ourselves eating at a Subway® store, so I was already very familiar with the brand. However, it was on a sightseeing tour of London that I was first attracted to the brand, having spotted a recruitment advert for a new store opening. I decided to go along and ended up being appointed a Store Manager. And the rest, as they say, is history.”
Mark went on to work as Director of Operations for the Subway® Greater London Development team, helping to grow the store count from three to 221. Then in 2013, an opportunity arose for Mark to become a Development Agent for the South Coast region. At this point, there were 59 stores open across the region. With Mark’s experience and drive, a further 50 stores have been added over the last four years.
Growing the brand has not all been plain sailing though, as Mark explains: “The early years were particularly difficult. Whilst the Subway® brand was a major force in North America, Australia and New Zealand, it was a completely new concept for the UK and Ireland; so much of our time was spent educating consumers about the brand. Another challenge was attracting landlords and convincing them that the Subway® brand was going to be a big success in the future.”
One of the key elements behind the success of the Subway® brand is the support provided to franchisees, both prior to acquiring their franchises and then on an on-going basis. Mark is very hands-on, and works with franchisees to help them maximise the potential of their stores, as well as identifying potential new locations to grow the brand.
“With a population in my region of over 3.5 million, there is still plenty of room to develop the brand. Consumers these days are much savvier; they know what they want and how they want it. The challenge for businesses likes ours is to keep evolving to reflect their requirements. This helps to keep the Subway® brand fresh and ensures that every day is interesting and rewarding for franchisees and their teams.
“We will be focusing our growth on stand-along units, drive thru and non-traditional locations, such as franchises within hospitals, transport hubs and education establishments, as well as other such complementary locations. Our growth targets mean there are plenty of opportunities for the right people with the right blend of teamwork, leadership and work ethic to become franchisees.
“I would always advise anyone interested in opening their own franchise to do their research; find out as much as you can about the brand and make sure you talk to existing franchisees. It’s also important to choose a business that you are passionate about, as there is plenty of hard work involved, particularly in the early days to get your franchise off the ground and running successfully.”
The Subway® brand recently opened its 2,500th store in the UK and Ireland, propelling its plans to increase the number of Subway® stores in the UK and Ireland to 3,000 by 2020, creating around 5,000 new jobs.