Wanting to move abroad? Become a european Subway franchisee.

Thinking of moving abroad? Rachel Spaul reports on an opportunity to enjoy the sun of Spain or Portugal as the owner of a Subway franchise

With more than 23,000 stores worldwide in over 80 countries, Subway is the world's largest submarine sandwich franchise. The chain recently surpassed the unit count of McDonald's in Northern Ireland, Australia and Canada, and expects to exceed its New Zealand unit count in the next few months. Subway plans to open another 1,500+ stores in the UK and Ireland by 2010, with further aggressive European expansion planned for Spain, Portugal and France followed by Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Denmark, Finland and Italy.

Europe is experiencing a big upward cycle with over 700 stores, almost half of which have opened in the past 12 months. Head of European Franchising Fabian Brachetta reveals: 'We're looking for more franchisees for these territories and believe that the franchise is particularly suitable for people from the UK who want to make a new life for themselves abroad.

'The Spanish market specifically is growing fast. We've received many applications for the tourist areas.

However, cities such as Madrid are also viable markets as people are taking less time for lunch and opting for fast food. The holiday season accounts for 80 per cent of the year, making the Spanish coast in particular a secure investment for a Subway store.'

One franchisee who endorses the viability of the Spanish market is Wayne Bloore. Previously a freelance computer programmer, he joined the company as the franchisee in Hull, but quickly became attracted to the Spanish market and is now an Area Developer. 'When I opened my first Subway in Hull, the brand was virtually unknown in the area,' he explains. 'Developing the store was quite a challenge but something I enjoyed and I wanted the same challenge in Spain.'

As a Spanish property owner, Wayne was already familiar with the area and felt he also knew the Subway business well enough to head its franchise development.

'The Spanish sandwich market is competitive with a lot of bars and sit-down waiter service restaurants,' Wayne continues. 'The fast food market has also really taken off, which is why Subway's combination of the two is successful.'

The key to Subway's ongoing success worldwide is its menu - in fact, many franchisees are reported to have joined because of their enjoyment and belief in the product. One major appeal to consumers is the fact that all food served at Subway restaurants is individually made to order in front of each customer, to their exact specifications. Another tremendous appeal is that the Subway chain has a reputation for providing a healthier alternative to traditional fast foods. Subway has developed a well-structured franchise programme, 'one that keeps investment/start-up costs low and the operation uncomplicated and efficient,' explains Franchise Sales Director Don Fertman. 'Its mission is to provide the tools and knowledge to allow entrepreneurs to successfully compete in the quick service restaurant industry worldwide by providing great tasting food that is good for them and made the way they like it.'

Subway encourages franchisees to learn the skills that will allow them to own and operate multiple locations. 'The Subway chain is proud of the fact that a high percentage of franchisees become multi-unit owners,' Don reveals. 'In fact, more than 70 per cent of new franchises sold are purchased by individuals already in the Subway system, which indicates not only a satisfaction with the franchise system but profitability as well.'

Subway guides and supports franchisees in developing their business from the intensive two-week training programme through to securing premises, designing the restaurant interior, ordering equipment, launching the business and supporting them in the field.

Maninder Bains is one sun-seeker enjoying the Spanish way of life. Soon to open his Subway store in Palma de Mallorca, he is already looking forward to opening the next. Despite speaking little Spanish, he has found the transition from England to Spain relatively simple. 'It's easy to make friends in Spain,' he confirms, 'as there's many people who speak both English and Spanish. I've had ongoing support from staff at Subway head office in Madrid and the local Development Agent.'

Having completed the two-week training course in Connecticut, Maninder is putting the final touches to his store ready to open in a few weeks time. 'I'm really looking forward to opening,' he adds. 'The concept has been operating for some 30 years, so there's no doubt that it will be successful. Once this one is up and running I'm hoping to open a second.'

Fabian concludes: 'We're eager to hear from individuals from the UK looking to own a Subway in the sun. With four regional offices, including our newly opened European headquarters in Amsterdam, Subway is poised for further expansion.'