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Tim Hortons plans U.S. push

OAKVILLE Ontario Canadian foodservice giant Tim Hortons Inc. is mounting another expansion push in the United States, this time using self-service kiosks, after disclosing a planned change in its top management and strong quarterly results.

In reporting an 11.5-percent rise in net income on a 10.5-percent pop in revenues for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 27, the one-time Wendy’s International Inc. holding said it plans to use the kiosks to “increase its U.S. brand exposure and create another channel of potential growth.” Currently 15 of the devices, which dispense hot and cold beverages and a selection of doughnuts and pastries, are in place at gas station convenience centers. About 140 kiosks operate in convenience settings within Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Hortons said it plans to develop between 90 and 110 outlets this year within the United States, after opening 68 units last year. It plans to open 120 to 140 stores in Canada, after adding 130 stores last year.

For the fourth quarter, Hortons’ U.S. branches posted a 4.2-percent increase in same-store sales, compared with an 8.3-percent jump for the same period a year earlier. Hortons said its U.S. operations generated a shortfall for the quarter — a loss of about $509,000 — which reflected “ongoing investment in developing U.S. markets.”

Same-store sales for Canadian units rose 3.4 percent for the fourth quarter, over a year-ago climb of 9.3 percent. The company attributed the deceleration in part to the introduction of a breakfast sandwich late in 2006, which sparked sales during that period. The Canadian segment posted operating income of about $128.6 million.

Net income for the most recent quarter totaled about $77.1 million. Revenues were $525.4 million.

The company posted its financial results and disclosed its growth plans after airing plans on Tuesday to promote Don Schroeder, a 17-year veteran of the company, to president and chief executive as of March 1. Schroeder, 61, will succeed Paul House, 64, who is moving up to executive chairman.

Schroeder, a lawyer by training, current oversees Hortons’ distribution, manufacturing, real estate and construction functions.

For the full fiscal year, Hortons posted a 3.8-percent gain in net income, to $274.8 million, on a revenue gain of 14.2 percent, to $1.93 billion. All figures have been converted from Canadian Dollars.

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