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Subway co-founder Fred DeLuca dies at 67

Written by Josh Russell on Friday, 18 September 2015. Posted in Franchise

The entrepreneur who helped create the world’s largest franchise has died after a two-year battle with leukaemia

Subway co-founder Fred DeLuca dies at 67

Tupungato / Shutterstock.com

Subway is an international franchise success story; from just a single restaurant in Connecticut, it has grown to be the largest franchise in the world with more than 44,000 restaurants around the globe. It’s hard not to admire the business savvy behind the franchise and that is why this week’s news of the death of co-founder Fred DeLuca at 67 has been a real blow for the franchise community.

DeLuca launched Subway in 1965 at the age of 17, as a result of a conversation with his friend and future co-founder Peter Buck. The nuclear engineer suggested a sandwich shop would be a great way to save money for college and lent DeLuca the $1,000 he needed to open his first store. By way of thanks, DeLuca named his store Pete’s Super Submarines, only shortening it to Subway in 1968.

Over the course of the next 50 years, DeLuca was instrumental in growing the chain to the largest restaurant chain in the world; his net wealth grew to approximately $3.5bn and Subway’s stores now allegedly serve about 2,800 sandwiches every minute. However, this is not to say that things have been plain sailing for the franchise of late. Last year, Subway’s revenues dropped by 3.3% to under $12bn, leaving it in third place in terms of annual sales for a chain restaurant.

The franchise’s co-founder passed away of leukaemia on September 14. He was first diagnosed in 2013 but remained as chief executive, insisting he had no plans to retire. Suzanne Greco, who was named president in June, will continue to oversee the operations of the business.

Despite the chain’s recent worries, it can’t be denied that the brand DeLuca helped to build has left an indelible impression on the world of franchising. We’re sure you’ll join us in paying our respects and wishing that his legacy long continues. 

About the Author

Josh Russell

Josh Russell

When he isn’t tooling around on trains in a tux like the Daniel Craig of the Greater Anglia transport system, Russell spends his time living the glamourous life of an enterprise journalist, judging Digital Business of the Year at the National Business Awards and attending conferences like NixonMcInnes’ Meaning 2013. However, like all good secret agents, Russell lives a double life – in his case, as a closet revolutionary. Social enterprise, sustainable business and collaborative practices are his true passions, something that he has had plenty of opportunity to air in his features here at Elite Franchise.

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