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NEW DELHI : Quick service restaurant chain Subway on Tuesday said it has signed a master franchise agreement with private investment firm Everstone Group to expand the sandwich maker’s business in India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. In India, the American sandwich chain worked with development agents.

Over the next decade, Everstone plans to add 2,000 restaurants across India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Within the region, it has 700 locations. The agreement is one of the largest master franchise deals in QSR history, the restaurant chain said.

This new agreement with Everstone is part of Subway’s “multi-year transformation" to improve across all aspects of the brand as the business expands its presence around the world, it added.

In July, Reuters had reported that Subway was in the middle of “overhauling its menu" and pumping more money into the marketing to compete with more players in the quick service restaurants industry. The changes also included fresh additions to the menu while doing away with outdated ones.

Everstone has significant expertise within the quick service restaurant business - it continues to be the master franchisee of Burger King India, Burger King Indonesia, and Domino’s Indonesia, among other such investments in the food services industry.

"Today’s announcement represents a significant step in Subway’s transformation journey and global expansion plans," said John Chidsey, chief executive officer of Subway.

To be sure, in India, Subway used to operate with four large development agents. These, in turn, worked with various other partners to sub-franchise the brand apart from running the stores themselves. It was not immediately clear whether Everstone Group will continue to work with the existing development agents. Email queries sent to Everstone remained unanswered.

The chain that sells sandwiches, wraps, salads, and bowls has a presence in 100 countries through a network of 40,000 restaurants. Subway restaurants are owned and operated by Subway franchisees, a network that includes more than 20,000 entrepreneurs and small business owners globally. It is among the largest restaurant chain globally, in terms of number of stores.

Demand for Subway’s food in India is “huge", said Mike Kehoe, EMEA President at Subway. The chain plans to triple its presence in the country.

“The scale of this agreement is unprecedented and will ensure that Subway’s presence across India will more than triple over the next 10 years," said Kehoe.

The new restaurants, as well as upgrades to existing locations, will adapt the company’s new, modern, and inviting “Fresh Forward" design and meet the needs of today’s consumer with comfortable guest indoor dining spaces as well as numerous delivery and order ahead options, with a strong digital first strategy.

“Subway’s freshly made-to-order and better-for-you food delivered at-home and in-store is central to one of the greatest structural consumer trends we see in South Asia, said Sameer Sain, Founder and CEO, Everstone Group.

Subway was started by 17-year-old Fred DeLuca, and family friend Dr. Peter Buck in 1965. In 1974, DeLuca and Buck decide that franchising is the best way to kick-start the chain’s growth - a model it has replicated in markets globally.

The association with Everstone is set to increase the expanse of the chain that already has a loyal customer base in India.

The country’s market for quick service restaurant style food already sees the participation of large foreign brands such as Domino’s, McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, and KFC among others.

Meanwhile, the pandemic has also shifted dynamics of the eating-out industry. Brands with entrenched delivery networks have continued to benefit as consumers increase frequency of ordering in. Meanwhile, consumers have also favoured well-established and known brands in the aftermath of the pandemic as they seek hygiene and packaged foods.

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