Fred Deluca has been experiencing a bit of déjà vu lately. When the number of Subway stores operating overseas reached 270 a few months ago, a funny feeling came over the 48-year-old sandwich king: He realized Subway's international size is just about the same size Subway was in the United States roughly 15 years ago-when it began taking the country by storm.
"Our developments internationally are looking very much like what we've done in the United States," says DeLuca excitedly, "only now I have a very interesting perspective on it all."
Interesting, indeed. If all goes as planned, DeLuca anticipates duplicating the same phenomenal success Subway has enjoyed in the United States and Canada in countries throughout the world. And he's well on his way: Subway's zesty salads and sandwiches can now be found in some 27 countries across the globe, with 100 new stores opening internationally last year.
"The time is right for us to be entering these new markets," says DeLuca. He's setting his sights on adding up to 200 new stores internationally each year until 1,000 foreign outlets exist, and then "we'll see truly explosive growth," he predicts.
Will he reach his goal? Only time will tell-but given that Subway ranked number one in our Franchise 500 yet again, the answer is most likely yes.
In fact, it seems nothing is out of DeLuca's reach. What started as one struggling store in Bridgeport, Connecticut, is now a sandwich empire with $3 billion in annual sales. After a year of what DeLuca describes as "strong and stable growth" that included the addition of an astounding 1,300-plus units worldwide, the soft-spoken entrepreneur is taking on the future as boldly as ever.