SWOT analysis of SUBWAY

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Last updated: January 2017


SWOT analysis is one of the tools which many strategic planners find very useful to analyse business environment. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. While, strengths and weaknesses are internal factors, opportunities and threats are external factors (Needham et al, 1995). The discussion that follows includes a SWOT analysis of SUBWAY.

SWOT analysis of SUBWAY

SUBWAY is an American fast food restaurant. The business has adopted franchising as its growth model. It sells submarine sandwiches (subs) and salads. Tea, coffee, and a variety of soft drinks are also sold by the restaurant.

SUBWAY has come a long way to become one of the most famous brands in the world. The restaurant has its own strengths as well as weaknesses. At the same time, it pursues opportunities and faces challenges as well.


SUBWAY is a world famous brand name. It is the 3rd largest fast food chain in the world. It serves approximately 7.6 million sandwiches on a daily basis.

It has adopted a differentiation strategy. For example, sandwiches can be customised according to the needs of the customers.

It operates in 107 countries and has approximately 42,118 restaurants worldwide (SUBWAY, 2016).

Healthy food (Low fat). The restaurant is famous for the tastiest and most nutritious meal options. No eggs are used in the breads or sauces. Special selections come with the promise of 6 Gms of fat or less, with a calorie range of 230-370 (SUBWAY, 2016).

The restaurant is franchisee owned; hence low cost of operations. This model also helps the restaurant minimise business risks.


The restaurant has uncomfortable seating arrangements (low quality chairs). Many of the outlets are very small as well.

Customer service varies from one outlet to another giving customers mixed feelings.

Many would argue that the food in SUBWAY is costly. In addition, the restaurant has huge employee turnover as well.


Many geographical markets are out there to explore. SUBWAY has reached to 107 countries only leaving many other countries untouched.

Diversification in other markets is also an opportunity.


Local and international competitors are the main threats. McDonald’s, KFC, and Burger King are the three biggest threats of SUBWAY.

Socio-economic and political instabilities in many parts of the world are also big threats not only for SUBWAY but also for any other company.

Concluding statement

The above SWOT analysis of SUBWAY demonstrates what the restaurant’s strengths and weaknesses are and what opportunities and threats are facing it. It is advisable that any SWOT analysis should be in comparison with that of a competitor, as it gives a more comprehensive picture.

Further reading/references

Needham et al. (1995) Business for Higher Awards, 1st edition, Heineman Educational


Author: M R Chowdhury

M R Chowdhury writes extensively online with an emphasis on business management and marketing. He is a lecturer in Management and Marketing. He is a graduate of both Leeds Metropolitan University and London South Bank University.