Tim Hortons CEO brushes aside skepticism about U.K. expansion, thinks Scots, Brits will love Timbits


Boy, 8, drives parents’ pickup truck to Tim Hortons

(Brent Foster/Postmedia)

Report an error

On social media and in London’s tabloids, some have slammed the company ahead of its debut in Glasgow, Scotland. “Welcome to the world of weak coffee!” screamed a headline in the Daily Mail.

To broaden its appeal, the coffee giant has expanded its menu with offerings that may be a better fit for the British palate, such as chai lattes and an espresso-based drink known as a flat white.

Change text size for the story
Tim Hortons parent company to buy Popeyes for US$1.8 billion

Print this story

Tim Hortons brand expanding into Mexico

TORONTO — The CEO of the parent company of Tim Hortons is brushing off skepticism that the British will embrace its double-doubles and Timbits as it readies to open its first location in the United Kingdom next month.

“We’ll look to ramp up the pace of development pretty quickly from there,” said Joshua Kobza, RBI’s chief financial officer.

The foray is one of several for Tim Hortons, which has been trying to grow its brand beyond Canada with master franchise agreements in the U.K., the Philippines (where it has two locations) and most recently, Mexico. Master franchise agreements allow an individual or group of investors to grow the brand in a specific region.

2 Tim Hortons in Quebec kill paid coffee breaks

Tim Hortons plans to expand to a number of other locations in the U.K. over the next 12 months, though London is not among them.

Related Stories


It’s expected to reach 4.3 billion pounds (roughly $7.7 billion) by the end of 2021. The U.K. coffee shop market rose 37% to 3.4 billion pounds (about $6 billion) between 2011 and 2016, according to market-research firm Mintel.
The coffee-and-doughnut chain may be a national institution in Canada, but in the country synonymous with tea time, it has received a mixed reception.

Tim Hortons

Other rivals include Costa Coffee, which operates more than 2,000 stores in the country, and Caffe Nero, which has more than 600 globally, though most are in the U.K. The Seattle-based coffee chain had 898 stores in the U.K. 2, 2016, according to its most recent annual report. as of Oct.

Timmies torpedoed in British invasion

3 charged in ‘roll up the rim to win’ Tim Hortons cup thefts

agreement announced last August. The Glasgow opening, touted as a good fit partly due to the city’s high student population, is the first to come from the company’s U.K.
Schwartz said he believes Tim Hortons can capitalize on that growth, saying entering a growing market with a great product and experience will be “pretty good” for the company.

Still, Schwartz said he believes staples, such as Timbits, will find their way into British stomachs and hearts, adding that the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I don’t know that we’re going to get to eight out of 10 cups anytime soon, but we have big, big ambitions,” said Daniel Schwartz, CEO of Restaurant Brands International. Tim Hortons says it pours 80% of the cups of coffee sold in Canada.

Canadian restaurants, by comparison, serve sandwiches on ciabatta or what’s described as homestyle soft buns. Some sandwiches will be served on a brioche bun.
He declined to provide specific targets, but said the company aims to become one of the biggest competitors in the countries where they operate, pointing to the number of Starbucks locations in the U.K. as a reference.