Canadian coffee chain announces intention for further UK growth as part of wider strategy of international expansion beyond its native market
A Tim Hortons employee in Canada. The coffee chain says its UK expansion plans could create 2,000 jobs | Photo: Tim Hortons
Tim Hortons has announced plans to open a new store in every major UK town and city over the next two years, with the first new site scheduled to open in Milton Keynes. The move could create 2,000 the jobs, the Canadian coffee chain said, without specifying how many new outlets it intends to open.
Tim Hortons made its UK debut in 2017 and currently operates 23 stores. If realised, the expansion would be significant given the extremely challenging trading environment UK coffee shops currently face in the wake of coronavirus disruption.
Tim Hortons, part of the Restaurant Brands International (RBI) franchise group, will likely encounter a favourable labour market for coffee and hospitality professionals following a string of redundancies among major UK coffee chains. Coca-Cola-owned Costa Coffee
, travel hub concession operator SSP Group,
and food-to-go chain, Pret A Manger
, have all announced thousands of job cuts due to coronavirus in recent months.
The coffee chain could also be betting on increased drive-thru adoption in the UK, a strategy that has served the brand well in its native Canadian market
“We cannot predict exactly when the dust will settle, but we're confident that we will be well positioned to capitalise on opportunities for growth as we emerge from the crisis and continue toward the 40,000 restaurant goal,” said RBI CEO, Jose Cil.
RBI currently operates some 27,000 restaurants through its global franchise model, including the Burger King and Popeye fast food chains. In February 2020 Cil announced plans to reinvigorate the Tim Hortons brand following several quarters of disappointing sales.
Since then, coronavirus has further adversely impacted RBI’s revenues, which fell more than 20% in the three months to July 2020, as lockdowns worldwide forced many locations to temporarily close or restrict store operations. Sales at Tim Hortons, which has more than 4,900 locations globally, fell more than 30% during the period.
The vast majority of Tim Horton's stores are located in Canada, where the coffee chain commands strong brand loyalty, with just 937 outlets across the rest of the world.
In July 2018 Tim Hortons announced an ambitious ten-year plan
to open more than 1,500 stores in China through an exclusive master franchise joint venture agreement with private equity firm, Cartesian Capital Group.
Nevertheless, today Tim Hortons operates just 50 stores in China. In May 2020 the coffee chain received further investment from Chinese technology giant, Tencent, to enhance its digital strategy and speed up expansion in the opportune East Asian market.