How to start a sandwich shop

Want to make a living selling sandwiches? Read our guide to opening a sandwich shop for a slice of the action

When thinking how to start a sandwich shop, consider:

The sandwich shop: The industry and being a sandwich artist

We give you the low-down on the sandwich shop industry to help you make a fat wedge through selling one of the nation’s most popular snacks.

The industry

Ever since 1762, when the Earl of Sandwich famously demanded that his food be placed between slices of bread so that he could continue his card game, the simple delight of the sandwich has been appreciated.

The sandwich industry is estimated to be worth £2.8bn, and it is estimated that over 60% of us buy a sandwich at least once a year.

However, the industry is fiercely competitive, and if you open your own shop you will be competing against supermarkets, workplace canteens, cafes, bakers and, of course, other sandwich shops.

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What is a sandwich shop?

Sandwiches are only a small part of what is sold in a sandwich shop. Your customers will also want other breadstuffs such as rolls, baguettes and ciabatta, as well as extras like drinks, soups, crisps and chocolates. Some ‘sandwich shops’ provide pastries and other hot foods, but we shall steer clear of the café world and remain focused on the sandwich.

You have the option of buying in pre-packed sandwiches, or making your own on site. By making your own you have greater creative input and have the benefit of being able to advertise your goods as being ‘freshly made’. But it takes more work and time and you have to make sure that your recipes work.

Over the last few years there have been a lot of changes in the world of convenience food and there are now many specialist sandwich makers on the market. Some of the early sandwich specialists, such as Subway, O’Briens and Pret a Manger, are now market leaders; Pret’s turnover now exceeds £450m.

McDonalds, once the number one force in the fast-food industry, has also added sandwiches to the menu in a bid to keep up with the fast-changing market, and coffee houses such as Starbucks and Coffee Republic have added sandwiches to their repertoire.

There are many big names to compete against, and while this may be daunting you would be well advised to find out how and why they have been successful.

Who is suited to it?

Anyone thinking of going into this business should enjoy meeting the general public. Each day you will be standing behind the counter face to face with the general public, listening to their wants, demands, suggestions, general conversation and, from time to time, their complaints (fair or otherwise). If this puts a shiver down your spine then it is likely that the sandwich business is not for you.

You should also have a passion for food as there is little point making a business out of something that you don’t care about.

Phil Brown, founder of Philpotts sandwiches, said: “You shouldn’t go into this type of business just to make money.

“You should do it because you can do it better than other people are currently doing it.”

Ready to get started? Find out everything you need to know about how to start your own business here.