Tim Hortons sales slump as stay-at-home orders impact morning coffee runs to chain

·2 min read

TORONTO — Ongoing stay-at-home orders in Canada are continuing to dampen sales at Tim Hortons, with the impact on morning coffee routines the single biggest drag on the chain's sales, the head of the restaurant's parent company said Friday.

"There's no doubt that the biggest factor affecting our performance at Tims is a continued lockdown of a large majority of the country," Jose Cil, chief executive of Restaurant Brands International Inc., told analysts on a conference call to discuss the company's latest results.

"Canada continues to face strict lockdowns in much of the country with mobility severely restricted," he said. "Americans are experiencing a very different path out of COVID than Canadians."

Indeed, Restaurant Brands — also the parent company of Burger King and Popeyes — topped expectations as it reported its first-quarter profit and sales grew compared with a year ago.

The company, which keeps its books in U.S. dollars, said it earned net income attributable to common shareholders of US$179 million or 58 cents per diluted share for the quarter ended March 31. The result compared with a profit of US$144 million or 48 cents per diluted share in the same quarter last year.

Revenue in the quarter totalled US$1.26 billion, up from nearly $1.23 billion in the first three months of 2020.

But the company's big picture masks the slump at Tim Hortons, which recorded a 4.9 per cent decrease in system-wide sales during the three-month period. That's compared with the same quarter in 2020, which was down 9.9 per cent compared with 2019.

"Tim Hortons Canada was down 14 per cent on a two year basis," Cil said.

Still, the company is encouraged by a number of positive trends that bode well for the coffee chain's recovery post-COVID, he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 30, 2021.

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The Canadian Press