Sandwich chain Quiznos, which has had rocky relations with some of its franchisees in recent years, announced Tuesday it is helping franchisees renegotiate their store leases as a way to reduce their expenses.

The Denver company said it has helped renegotiate 40 leases with property owners so far, including expired leases as well as ongoing leases in markets where property values have declined. It said the negotiations so far have reduced lease payments for franchisees by an average of 15 percent to 20 percent.

The leases are being lowered “into accordance with current market values, at no cost to franchise owners,” the company said in a statement.

In cases where leases have not expired, Quiznos typically has helped franchisees lower their rent payments in exchange for lease extensions, the company said.

“Even a down economy can be an opportunity and the current market for retail rent is an example of that,” Rick Schaden, Quiznos founder and CEO, said in the statement. “…We are working toward mitigating the impact of the economic situation and ensuring our franchise owners’ success. My primary goal as CEO is for franchise owners to say in one year from now they are better off than they are today.”

Quiznos has about 5,000 franchise-operated restaurants, many of whom lease their store spaces from property owners.

Schaden returned as company CEO in February, replacing Dave Deno, who was CEO for less than five months.

The company has experienced difficulties with franchisees in the past, including class-action lawsuits.

The Toasted Subs Franchisee Association, a group of Quiznos franchisees, has complained that the company charges too much for supplies and does not communicate effectively with its franchisees.

Denver Business Journal