Subway names new Canadian country lead amid refresh

Douglas Fry takes over from Christina Wells as the QSR works to revitalize its brand, which has seen a few bumps in the road.

Doug Fry

Amid a global push by Subway to modernize its brand and offering, the QSR has named a new Canadian country director to lead those efforts locally.

As the company’s new Canadian leader, Douglas Fry will be responsible for driving brand growth, increasing profit and market share and providing leadership through strategic planning, innovation and business improvement, the company said in a release.

He replaces Christina Wells, who has moved stateside for a VP strategy and planning role on the U.S.-based chain’s marketing team. Wells had worked on the Canadian business since 2016, first as marketing director and later as country lead.

Fry has more than 20 years of restaurant and consumer packaged goods experience, including senior roles in sales, marketing and operations at McDonald’s Canada, Recipe Unlimited and Kraft Heinz. He arrives at what Subway North America president Trevor Haynes described as a “pivotal point in Subway’s transformation journey.”

In July, the QSR embarked on an “Eat Fresh Refresh,” which the company has described as the biggest brand overhaul in its 50-year history involving improvements to core menu items and digital upgrades.

Starting in the U.S., it rolled out 20 menu upgrades, with 11 new and improved ingredients, six new and returning sandwiches, and four signature sandwiches, as well as two new bread options. On the digital side, it made changes to its mobile app – including a new dashboard, improved ordering flow, and the ability to see real-time out-of-stock items – and began offering delivery to select U.S. markets.

“While the foundation for the ‘Eat Fresh Refresh’ was set in motion before [Fry] came on board, his experience and expertise will be invaluable for ensuring the brand’s transformation in Canada delivers on its promise to bring Canadians better – better ingredients, better products and better experiences,” the company wrote in an email to strategy. “This will be the main focus of his role now and into the next year.”

Fry will have to contend with the fact that Subway’s brand transformation has not gone entirely smoothly to date. While customers welcomed an “Eat Fresh Refresh” launch campaign that included a giveaway of 50 free subs at participating restaurants – totalling a million free subs – critics have said the menu changes don’t go far enough, citing “more of the same.” And the chain has faced questions about its tuna – one ingredient it does not plan to change – with a class-action lawsuit in California claiming its tuna sandwiches “are completely bereft of tuna as an ingredient.”

“The ‘Eat Fresh Refresh,’ in Canada and across North America, is part of a long-term transformational process,” Subway Canada told strategy. “We’re committed to continually listening, acting on what our guests want and reflecting those changes back to them in compelling ways. [Customers] can expect to continue to see changes big and small roll out this year and into the next.”