Jon Smith Subs UK master franchisor Hasna Sheikh Ali runs the business with her shareholder sons, Omar Al-Magribi and Yousif Al-Magribi. Yousif also owns the Bournemouth franchise of 83-branch Pepe’s Piri Piri restaurant in Bournemouth.
Shiekh Ali says the first UK Jon Smith Subs branch opened in Hammersmith, west London, last month and a second master franchise-owned branch would open in Bournemouth this year.
She hopes to open a third in Kingston, south-west London by the end of 2020.
“We’ve had 34 people interested in obtaining franchise licences. We might get 10-15 in the next few years – it might be more or it might be less.”
HSBC had invested about £230,000 in the first branch and had provided a six-figure finance facility, she says.
Omar Al-Magribi, who runs the Hammersmith branch, says: “We were incredibly excited to have opened the first John Smith Subs in the UK and the response to our London restaurant has been overwhelming.”
Jon Smith Subs has more than 20 branches across four countries and it has more than 35 stores in development at various stages.
The brand is part of the United Franchise Group, which owns The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill.
Jon Smiths Subs began life in 1988 in Palm Beach County selling “overstuffed, marinated grilled sirloin steak and chicken breast subs”. It also sells multiple options from the grill, giant deli subs, salads and side options. It is known for its large portions and non-processed food.
Jim Butler, leader of United Franchise Group’s food division, says: “The expansion of the franchise is a clear sign of its growing appeal among guests that love great-tasting and fresh food, a variety of menu options, and customer-friendly service.”
Subway is the biggest player in the sub sandwich market with more than 44,000 branches worldwide and plans to grow to 3,000 in the UK and Ireland by next year.
Chicago-based Potbelly, another subs group which came to the UK in 2015, failed to make the format work and pulled out a couple of years later, while Quiznos, which also originated in the US, has struggled to grow to more than a handful of UK branches after a chequered start.