Fred DeLuca, the president and co-founder of Subway who expanded the sandwich chain to more locations than McDonald’s Corp., is being treated for leukemia.
“We can confirm that Subway Restaurants President and Co-founder Fred DeLuca has been diagnosed with Leukemia and is currently being treated,” Kevin Kane, a spokesman for Milford, Connecticut-based Subway, said in an e-mail. “Fred is doing well and focused on his health right now.”
“The senior management team for the brand continues to manage the day to day operations of the company and no significant changes are being made at this time,” Kane said. Closely held Subway is owned by Doctor’s Associates Inc.
DeLuca, 65, on July 15 sent a voice mail to Subway franchisees and staff at headquarters to tell them about his diagnosis, Kane said. The executive has been in contact with the management team while receiving treatment and everything is still moving forward, he said. Fred is communicating with management regularly, although in a reduced capacity while he focuses on his health, Kane said.
DeLuca said in February he planned to reach 50,000 sandwich shops in four years as Subway speeds growth abroad. The chain, which has attracted customers with lower-calorie and reduced-sodium sandwiches, is expanding in Asian markets, he said. Subway, which is competing with Yum! Brands Inc. in India, China and Japan, is planning to open 300 stores in each of the nations during the next three years, DeLuca said.
In 1965, DeLuca opened the first Subway sandwich shop in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Since then, the chain has expanded through franchising and has more than 39,600 units in about 100 countries.
McDonald’s has more than 34,500 locations, according to the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company’s most recent quarterly filing.