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Jan 11, 2019

Tim Hortons 'very, very confident' as it prepares to start building first China stores

Tim Hortons president: Expect loyalty plan, first store in China soon

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Tim Hortons is about to start building its first locations in China, as it seeks to open 1,500 locations in the world’s second-largest economy over the next decade, the coffee-and-doughnut chain’s president said.

Alex Macedo told BNN Bloomberg’s Jon Erlichman that Tim Hortons (QSR.TO) has been working with its partner, Cartesian Capital Group, to develop its brand strategy in China and has already selected its first locations. Tim Hortons first announced its China plan and joint venture with Cartesian in July.

“We’re almost ready to start building them out,” Macedo said from the company’s new headquarters in downtown Toronto, which relocated from Oakville, Ont.

Macedo added that Tim Hortons is working with its partner to better understand what the restaurant chain should bring from its Canadian outlets, and what it needs to adapt for the “competitive” Chinese market.

“A lot of Chinese know the [Tim Hortons] brand. I think the brand recognition there is a lot higher than some of the other competitors that have gone in,” Macedo said. “I’m personally very, very confident and looking forward to opening the first store in China.”

Tim Hortons faces competition in China from Starbucks Corp., McDonald’s Corp., Dunkin’ Donuts, Beijing startup Luckin Coffee and U.K. chain Costa Coffee.

Macedo also provided an update on the planned rollout of Tim Hortons’ new loyalty program. The company has conducted seven market tests, and will announce the program in Canada in a “short period of time,” Macedo said.