NEW YORK — Sandwich chain Subway said Thursday it will be sold to the private equity firm Roark Capital, the firm that owns Dunkin' and Arby's, after months of searching for a buyer.
Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Roark was offering around $9.6 billion for Subway, which is privately owned.
Subway CEO John Chidsey said the deal reflects Subway’s long-term growth potential and the value of the brand. Subway plans to continue to modernize restaurants and expand internationally under Roark’s ownership.
Roark is a private equity firm with $37 billion in assets under management. It specializes in franchised businesses, and owns multiple restaurant chains, including Arby’s, Dunkin’ and Buffalo Wild Wings.
Subway, which has dual headquarters in Miami and Connecticut, was founded in 1965 and is still owned by its founding families. It’s now one of the world’s largest restaurant chains, with 37,000 outlets in more than 100 countries. All of the company's locations are owned by individual franchises.
Because the company is privately held and stores are owner-operated, it is not listed on Wall Street, making it more difficult to gauge the financial health of the company.
But in the U.S., it has been losing market share in recent years to fast-growing rivals like Panera and Firehouse Subs, which feature more varied menus and newer stores. Subway has been trying to catch up; in 2021 it refreshed its menu and last year it announced a line of chef-developed sandwiches.
The company has also recently begun marketing meat cut in store for its sandwiches, copying a popular competitor, Jersey Mike's.
But in February, Subway announced it was exploring a sale.