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James Walker resigns at Subway

The company's vice president of North America departed immediately, amid a management shakeup.
Photograph courtesy of Subway

James Walker, Subway’s vice president of North America, resigned on Friday, “effective immediately,” sources told Restaurant Business, in the latest executive departure to roil the sandwich giant in recent months.

A spokesperson for Subway confirmed Walker’s departure.

Walker resigned “effective immediately to pursue other opportunities,” according to an internal company announcement. Ian Martin, vice president of international, was named acting chief business development officer overseeing both international and North American markets.

“Leaving Subway was a hard decision for me, especially given the really great things happening at Subway right now,” Walker told RB. “This was more of a personal decision for me, than a professional one. [CEO Trevor Haynes] and the team at Subway have my admiration and respect. Trevor especially has been a fantastic boss, and mentor, and someone who I’ll continue to admire.”

James walker/subway

James Walker/Subway

Walker’s departure comes less than a year after he was promoted to lead the company’s North American operations, and less than two years after he was named vice president of development for the company. He had previously been president of burger chain Johnny Rockets.

It also comes amid a time of turmoil for the Milford, Conn.-based company, the world’s biggest restaurant chain by unit count. Subway operates 44,000 locations worldwide.

Joe Tripodi, the company’s chief marketing officer, retired last April but remained as “strategic marketing advisor” through December, when he left the company altogether. Roger Mader, co-founder and managing partner of strategic marketing agency Ampersand, was named acting CMO.

Tripodi told the publication Marketing Week that his three-year tenure at Subway was “one of the most challenging jobs I’ve ever had.” He said the privately held brand was “isolated” and required “significant transformation” across the business.

Yet it has struggled in recent years to generate sales and has been closing locations in its U.S. market.

Suzanne Greco, who became CEO in 2015 following the death of her brother and the chain’s founder, Fred DeLuca, retired last May. She was replaced on an interim basis by Haynes, who remains the chain’s acting CEO.

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