Edible Arrangements, Subway Take Steps Forward and Back in Roller-Coaster Economy

Two of Connecticut’s leading food franchise success stories - Edible Arrangements and Subway – have both been in the news in recent days, seemingly moving in opposite directions.  Subway, for the first time in memory, is reducing the number of franchises across the country, while Edible Arrangements is in the midst of extending its brand, as its founder has taken back control of the equity in the business. Subway dropped 359 U.S. locations in 2016, the first time that Subway has had a net reduction. The store count dropped 1.3 percent to 26,744 from 27,103, but Subway remains the nation’s most ubiquitous eatery. (Behind only McDonald’s in sales.) Sales at Subway franchises fell 1.7 percent last year to about $11.3 billion, according to published reports. Subway is still growing internationally, with sales outside the U.S. increasing 3.7 percent to $5.8 billion last year, as the company continued to open locations.

Subway was founded about 52 years ago by Fred DeLuca and Peter Buck in Bridgeport. DeLuca died in 2015, leaving the company in the hands of his younger sister, Suzanne Greco, who became chief executive officer. The chain’s restaurants are entirely owned by franchisees.

Since its founding in 1999 in East Haven, Edible Arrangements has grown to more than 1,300 locations worldwide. Tariq Farid developed a "healthy obsession with fruit," and used his experience in the floral industry insight to develop a new business concept: fruit bouquets. Edible Arrangements began franchising in 2001, according to the company website.

Farid has completed a buyback of equity of the company which had been held by Greenwich private equity firm L Catterton.  The company has entered into a strategic partnership with L Catterton in June of 2012. Farid said the relationship provided assistance during a key growth phase for the brand, a time in which Edible Arrangements expanded into offering fresh fruit smoothies, froyo fruit blends, chocolates and more.

“The timing was right to take back full ownership so that I could be more fully engaged in building the future of the brand with our franchisees," Farid said, adding that "Edible Arrangements finds itself well-positioned for a future that includes exciting new opportunities for our franchises and the brand.”

Edible Arrangements has launched a system-wide conversion of traditional stores to a "whole-store" experience in the Edible To Go platform, featuring fresh fruit smoothies, froyo fruit blends and other fresh fruit treats. The company is coming off a year in which it registered a 27 percent increase over the previous year in both the number of new store openings and signings of new franchise agreements. It was named in Entrepreneur's Top 40 of "Fastest Growing Franchises" and "America's Top Global Franchises" as well as being included among the "Inc. 5000" list of the fastest growing privately-held companies.

"This is an exciting time to be a part of Edible Arrangements," Farid said. "At heart we are really a family of small businesses that have enjoyed incredible growth through a shared passion and willingness to work together towards common goals. Now we can focus all our energy on working together on the next evolution of the Edible Arrangements brand."

Edible Arrangements is headquartered in Wallingford; Subway is headquartered in Milford.