As Tim Hortons enters China, U.S. is still its 'biggest potential market': Tims President
When Tim Hortons decided to expand to the Chinese market, the coffee-and-doughnut chain took its time making sure its presence in the country was just right, the company’s president said.
“We did a lot of studying before opening in China,” said Alex Macedo, Tim Hortons’ president, in an interview with BNN Bloomberg on Tuesday.
“China was obviously a place we always wanted to go,” he added. “We took our time. We studied the market. We made sure we had the perfect combination of the menu, the restaurant environment and what the brand should represent to go into China.”
Tim Hortons opened its first restaurant in Shanghai on Tuesday, featuring unique offerings like a salted egg yolk timbit and a maple macchiato.
But Tim Hortons’ expansion into the market comes two decades after Starbucks Corp. opened its first store in Beijing and nearly 30 years since McDonald’s Corp. made its Chinese debut in 1990.
Macedo said the company’s Chinese stores will source ingredients from Canada through a master franchise agreement with an eventual goal to obtain ingredients locally. Tim Hortons intends to open more than 1,500 restaurants across China over the next 10 years.
“The coffee that we’re serving in China is roasted in Canada," Macedo said. “Some of the other food items that we have here are the ones we have in China. As we expand, to have success, most of it will be locally-sourced and we have in place several check-points to make sure we’re serving high-quality (food and drink).”
International expansion has not always gone smoothly for Canada’s coffee giant. Tim Hortons’ U.S. franchisee partners pulled back on its expansion plans last summer, while the company also received complaints from a Minnesota-based franchisee over alleged price-gouging last week.
Macedo said the U.S. market remains a high priority for the coffee-and-doughnuts maker.
“I still believe the U.S. is our biggest potential market,” he said. “We didn’t grow as fast as we would have liked, but we’re working very hard on adjusting the model, taking our time so that when we start expanding again in the U.S. we can have all the success we deserve to have for the brand and that country.”
He added that he believes he has the support of franchisees in both Canada and the U.S. amid better communication between the company’s corporate office and franchise owners.
“The communication is flowing much better. We’re working much better together,” Macedo said. “I’d say that for the vast majority of the franchisees in the United States we’re also moving in the right direction. We have their support."