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Subway North America president talks restaurant’s menu redesign, tuna controversy

Subway North America President Trevor Haynes highlights the sandwich shop's new menu offerings, federal rulings on the content of Subway's tuna fish products, and the brand's One Million Sandwich giveaway.

Video Transcript

- With food prices skyrocketing, the nation's leading fast food chains are facing higher costs. Here to talk about that in a massive menu makeover, we have Trevor Haynes, Subway's North America President. Trevor, it's great to see you. We were just talking about how higher inflation-- how that's impacting a number of industries, specifically the food business. What's been the impact on Subway?

TREVOR HAYNES: Yeah, great question. And I know we're here today. We're going to talk about a new Subway Series, bold new sandwiches, chips on supply builds. It's a whole new way to Subway in terms of the ordering process that you will go through at one of our restaurants.

And we got out-- we launched with our media yesterday, after a couple of weeks of soft launch. Very excited by what we see and very excited by how our franchisees and our guests have really responded to that. But back to your question just in regards to inflation, we continually do work with our supply chain partners and our franchisees to take price here and there to ensure that we're unlocking profitability for our franchisees. But we also have very affordable options for our guests when they come in to the Subway restaurant.

We've been in the marketplace for 50-plus years. We've seen ups and downs. And we really think that our proposition, particularly the new menu line up, sets us really in a great position, you know, go through the next 6, 12 months of what's going to be experienced here in the US.

- And have you noticed any changes in consumer spending habits when it comes to what they're willing to spend on with inflation being so high right now?

TREVOR HAYNES: Yeah. I think what you look at with Subway, you know, we offer a great value for money, right? It's the quantity of food, the quality of the food, your guest experience. And we've always been very focused on that. And that's something when you look at if there is a tightening through inflation or recession, that you find guests typically will trade into QSR and more affordable options.

And so as I said, Subway is very well positioned for that. And these 12 sandwiches that we've launched with the Subway Series really bring a combination of great flavors together at a really, you know, very attractive price point for guests as well. So we encourage folks to go and try them out and understand what we're doing in our restaurants.

And as I said, a great new way to Subway with the order experience. So, like, for me, personally, it's the number eight, the Great Garlic. Order that. And go through the experience. And I'm sure you'll be impressed by what you see there.

- I'll give it a shot, Trevor. Got to ask you about one of the sandwiches, though, in the news. A federal judge in San Francisco, as you know, ruled Subway can be sued allegedly for deceiving customers about its tuna products. That includes a claim it uses other fish species, chicken, pork, and cattle instead of the advertised 100% tuna. What's your reaction to the judge's ruling?

TREVOR HAYNES: Yeah. So that's an interesting one. I've been asked that question several times, right? I get our tuna product. It's Subway. Subway tuna's 100% tuna. That is what is in our product.

You can go to subwaytunafacts.com. And we just-- we see this as a really reckless and improper lawsuit. And we're very confident that we'll prevail when we get to the other side of this. And just in regards to the tuna offering that we've got in our restaurants, it's been a staple in our menu for many, many years. And we believe it will be on our menu for many more to come. But thank you for the question.

- Hey, Trevor, why was now the right time to launch this massive menu makeover? We talked to a number of chains who have been adding certain items or maybe special items for a specific time frame. Why are you taking this initiative now?

TREVOR HAYNES: That's a great question. You know, about 12 months ago, we took the first step of what we call our big refresh 1.0. We introduced a bread form, improved bread formula, proteins, cheese sauce, et cetera. We've been upgrading ingredients over the last 12 months, as well, following that launch date.

And we see this as a really great way to bring all of those ingredients together into chef-inspired builds so that the guests can have just a different way of experiencing their Subway restaurant. As I said, you can choose-- just choose a number or choose a name, go through the line. And it'll be a very easy experience for you.

If you want to customize and have your favorite sandwich, absolutely that option is there. But we thought this is really the right time for the brand, given all the work we've done over the last 18-- 12, 18 months to bring this now to life. And, you know, we've tested this extensively. Our franchisees and teams are super excited about it. And we believe this is going to be great for our brand and great for our guests as they come in and experience the new way to Subway.

- And Trevor, we know that this came along with this 1 million sandwich giveaway. Were you able to give away all the sandwiches? And what sort of return on investment did you see for this big advertising push?

TREVOR HAYNES: Yeah, that's great. We had lines out the door of many restaurants. We did this-- it was the morning period. And folks could come in and try one of our new builds, one of our new 12 Subway Series builds. As I said, we had guests lined up. People were really excited about it.

Our franchisees and their teams were super excited. And we're really thrilled with the results. I think we're still tallying them up. But we had an absolute great day. And the media, I said-- as I mentioned, launched for the whole campaign yesterday. We're very excited by what we've seen so far. So it's been really good pick up, great way to kick this off for our team internally and for our guests that really know and love us.

- Trevor, you talked about the impact of inflation. What's been the impact of the labor shortage across the country?

TREVOR HAYNES: Yeah, look, that's a very good question. You know, we see different parts of the country where it's tighter than others. You know, we find, though, that franchisees just continually look to hire new people into their restaurants to work with them. We're constantly looking for different ways to attract talent to join our teams.

But that is a challenge. But we do have opportunities. If anyone watching wants a job at Subway, we've certainly got opportunities for folks to come and join us.

- All right. Subway North American President, Trevor Heinz, appreciate it. Best of luck with the builds menu.