The American fast food chain Subway - best known for its cheese and cold cut-filled, six and twelve-inch edible creations - said Friday that it is planning to open 15 new restaurants in Germany before the end of the year.
Subway currently sells its trademark submarine sandwiches at 21 restaurants located in major German cities including Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich. The company opened its first German franchise in 1999. Subway hopes to expand its number of restaurants in Germany to 1,000 by 2010.
"The market is ripe for our concept of fresh and healthy sandwiches," said Oliver Friedrich, Subway's development manager in Germany. "Our business falls right in the middle of the current wellness trend even as other fast-food products are declining in popularity," he said.
Subway's bulging, made-to-order sandwiches - enormous by European standards - have climbed their way to the top of the fast-food heap in the United States, where the company has more restaurants than even McDonald's.
Indeed, at the start of 2002, Subway had 13,247 restaurants in the U.S. versus McDonald's 13,099, according to the company. Last year, it racked up $4.07 billion (€4.02 billion) in sales worldwide.
The company faces considerable competition in Germany - not just from already established fast food chains like McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut or Burger King - but also from corner bakery chains like Kamps or Wiener Feinbäcker, which sell most of the sandwiches in Germany.
But the question remains whether Subway's culture of American-style sandwiches will catch on in a country where small cheese and meat-filled rolls sold by bakeries are often the closest you'll find to a hoagie or BLT.