• M&A
  • August 24, 2023
  • 3 minutes read

Sandwich Chain Subway Sells To Buyout Firm Roark Capital

Subway, the famous, privately-held American sandwich chain, has struck a deal to sell to Roark Capital, an Atlanta-based private equity…

Subway logo

Subway, the famous, privately-held American sandwich chain, has struck a deal to sell to Roark Capital, an Atlanta-based private equity firm. The agreement ends Subway’s nearly six decades of ownership by the founding DeLuca-Buck families. The late restaurateur Peter Buck founded Subway in 1965 with an investment from the late Fred DeLuca, a family friend.

Roark Capital didn’t disclose the price it’ll pay to acquire Subway. But, a recent report from the Wall Street Journal said Roark Capital bid $9.6bn to take the fast food chain private, emerging as the leading bidder among several private equity suitors.

Subway is one of America’s top-ten restaurant chains by annual sales. It has over 40,000 locations globally, all independently owned by franchisees. Most Subway restaurants are in America, and the rest are spread across dozens of other countries.

According to market research firm Technomic, Subway made $9.8bn in sales from the U.S. alone in 2022. Yet, Subway’s market share has fallen over the past decade after previous years of aggressive expansion. Global sales peaked at $18bn in 2022, according to Technomic, and gradually declined over the past decade amid tougher competition.

  • Subway co-founder Fred DeLuca ran the restaurant chain for decades before he was diagnosed with cancer and passed away in 2015. His sister, Suzanne Greco, took over in 2015 and retired three years later, passing the buck to longtime Subway veteran Trevor Haynes. Haynes spent a year as acting CEO until his replacement by John Chidsey, former chief executive of Subway rival Burger King.


  • Chidsey has remained Subway’s chief executive since 2019. Haynes is currently Subway’s President for North America.


  • Under Chidsey’s leadership, Subway has scaled back its U.S. operations and expanded internationally. Since 2021, it has signed deals with international franchisees to open 9,000 locations, including 4,000 in China.

Roark, Subway’s acquirer, is no stranger to the restaurant business. It owns several restaurant chains, including Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Dunkin’, and Baskin-Robbins. Adding Subway would cement Roark’s status as one of the world’s largest restaurateurs.

Roark Capital was founded by Neal Aronson in 2001. Before launching Roark, Aronson co-founded U.S. Franchise Systems, a hotel franchise company. Earlier in his career, he worked at Drexel Burnham Lambert, the long-shuttered investment bank that helped train a handful of future private equity titans, including Aronson himself, Steve Feinberg of Cerberus Capital, and Apollo Global’s Leon Black, Marc Rowan, and Josh Harris.

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