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Tim Hortons sales rebound but RBI says pandemic uncertainty persists

RBI’s second quarter results show improved performance for Tim Hortons globally, but the international restaurant operator says fresh local Covid-19 restrictions could frustrate sales

Tim Hortons reported global revenues of $831m for the for the three months ended 30 June 2021, compared to $374m in 2020 | Photo credit: Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons' global coffee shop business appears to be rebounding from the pandemic. Reporting its financial performance for the three months ended 30 June 2021, parent company Restaurant Brands International (RBI) said total revenues at the Canada-based coffee chain grew to $831m, a 46.7% increase on the same period in 2020. Meanwhile, like-for-like store sales increased 27.6% compared to a 29.3% reduction during the same period in the year previous.
RBI reported Tim Hortons now operates 5,065 stores globally, a 2.7% increase on the same period in 2020. Approximately 96% of RBI’s Tim Hortons, Burger King and Popeyes sites worldwide were open for business as of 30 June 2021, including 97% of North American sites, compared to 81% of sites worldwide being operational in 2020, the company said. 
However, despite the recovery, RBI also noted many markets that had eased Covid-19 restrictions in 2020, such as Canada, Europe and Brazil, had subsequently re-imposed lockdowns and curfews in the six months ended June 30, 2021. ‘We expect local conditions to continue to dictate limitations on restaurant operations, capacity, and hours of operation’, the company wrote.
“We are encouraged by the momentum across our business – including sales increases driven by quality menu items, rapid adoption of our digital channels by our guests and an acceleration in new restaurant openings around the world by our franchisees who believe strongly in our brands and business model,” said José E. Cil, CEO, Restaurant Brands International Inc.
Tim Hortons has already invested in international expansion during 2021, announcing a new Middle Eastern headquarters, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in January, and plans to open 200 new stores in China in March.
However, the vast majority of its stores are located in its native Canadian market, where the coffee chain announced in March 2021 it would invest C$80m (US$64.3m) in its digital marketing capabilities, such as app-based ordering, delivery and its loyalty scheme.
In July 2021, UK-based private equity firm Cinven acquired majority stake in RBI subsidiary Restaurant Brands Iberia for $1.18bn, which operates a handful of Tim Hortons stores in Spain.
Reiterating the importance of digital sales and delivery as the pandemic causes changes in consumer behaviour, RBI said it expected to see a ‘continued impact’ from Covid-19 on its results in 2021.

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