There’s a reason why American Retail Services (ARS) of Oceanside, Calif., chose sandwiches as the centerpiece of the budding foodservice program it’s launching in its 100-store chain.
Chicago-based market research firm Mintel International estimated in September 2010 that despite the challenges of the recent economy, sandwich shop sales grew 3.1% in 2010 to $24.3 billion. Mintel expects that over the next five years sandwich sales will maintain growth from 3.2 to 3.5% year-over-year.
ARS tapped Tim Finnerty, a veteran of the QSR and c-store industry, to launch the new foodservice concept across its five-state marketing area. The consultant built the program—now branded as Porter’s Mill—focused on deli-style service with a fresh-prepared menu, including pastries, pizza, soups and sandwiches, made to order and displayed in an open-air case. Toasting is also an option.“In the coming years success will be determined by how well operators can go out and get the people who aren’t their regular in-store customers,” said Finnerty. “We’re targeting the ones who fill up on gas, but don’t come in the store. It’s a significant opportunity.”
While value proposition is important to consumers, quality is paramount. Mintel found that selection of meats is important for 60% of sandwich consumers when deciding where to shop. And 56% said they look for sandwich providers that can toast a variety of breads.
Finnerty chose Tyson as his meat supplier, and distributor Sysco for multiple deliveries a week. With the current high cost of tomatoes, there could be an extra charge for what he estimated as a $5 sandwich. To cut down on labor costs lettuce will be delivered pre-cut and cleaned.
John Matthews, president of marketing services company Gray Cat Enterprises and former president of Jimmy John’s Subs, noted innovation is important, but consistency, speed, freshness, taste and the right price point should come first.