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Apr 24, 2018

‘We’re not happy’: Tim Hortons’ parent vows turnaround as Q1 sales stumble

RBI unveils new plan for Tim Hortons after ‘soft’ quarter

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Restaurant Brands International Inc. announced a new “Winning Together” plan to improve customer experience and sales at its Tim Hortons operations after the company reported better-than-expected financial results, despite what it called soft results at the coffee shop chain.

“We’re not happy with our sales growth and overall financial results at Tim Hortons,” said Restaurant Brands CEO Daniel Schwartz during a conference call with analysts on Tuesday. “Our relationship with our restaurant owners hasn’t been as strong as we would like it to be over the last few quarters.”

Restaurant Brands has been feuding with a group of its Tim Hortons franchisee owners over a number of items including cost-cutting measures, cash register outages and a $700-million renovation plan to spruce up its restaurants.

Same-store sales, a crucial metric that measures performance at stores that have been open for more than a year, fell 0.3 per cent at Tim Hortons during the first quarter. During the conference call, Restaurant Brands management attributed the weakness in part to softness in coffee sales north of the border.

“To be clear: We are not pleased with how our Tim Hortons business is performing,” Schwartz said during the call. “As a result, we have developed and begun to implement decisive and urgent actions and created a long-term plan to address the causes of our underperformance.”

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    Indeed, Schwartz highlighted recent announcements including the appointment of Alex Macedo as president of Tim Hortons and the company’s plan to move Tim Hortons’ headquarters to Toronto from Oakville, Ont. And Schwartz said the new “Winning Together” strategy will be built on three pillars: “restaurant experience,” “product excellence,” and “brand communication.”

    The company, which keeps its books in U.S. dollars, earned US$147.8 million or 59 cents per diluted share for the quarter ended March 31. That compared with a profit of $50.2 million or 21 cents per diluted share a year ago. Revenue totalled $1.25 billion, up from $1 billion in the same quarter last year.

    On an adjusted basis, Restaurant Brands, which also owns Burger King and Popeyes, says it earned 66 cents per share for the quarter, up from 36 cents per share a year ago.

    Analysts on average had expected a profit of 56 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters.

    -With files from The Canadian Press