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Tim Hortons’ Canadian franchisees launch association

Great White North Franchisee Association names CEO and outlines concerns

Tim Hortons franchisees, citing “mismanagement” of the brand since its 2014 sale to Burger King, have hired Terrence Connoy as executive director of its newly formed Great White North Franchisee Association.

The operators complained about a handful of issues they said have “adversely affected” their ability to serve customers under Tim Hortons’ Canadian-based parent company, Restaurant Brands International.

They also said RBI’s internal advisory board “has proven ineffective” in representing operator interests, and “impotent at influencing RBI’s operational decisions.”

“For over 50 years, the success of Tim Hortons in Canada has been driven by the hard work, passion, and deep community engagement of its franchisees,” Connoy said in a statement. “The FWNFA was formed to ensure this hard work and the iconic Tim Hortons brand is not further compromised under this new ownership.”

Connoy is an experienced franchise association CEO who led the Canadian Tire Dealers Association for more than 20 years. At GWNFA, he will be responsible for advancing the association’s interests and goals “in the context of a cooperative and mutually respectful relationship” with Tim Hortons and RBI.

Connoy was not available for an interview on Thursday. Tim Hortons did not respond to a request for comment.

In a release, the association cited a “lack of transparency” in the use of operators’ ad fund contributions, as well as the “virtual elimination” of local advertising and support.

Operators also noted “abusive exploitation of its procurement powers” to take franchisees’ profits, subjective performance metrics and “intimidation of franchisees and their employees.”

Tim Hortons had 3,800 restaurants in Canada as of Dec. 31. Franchisees there typically operate a small number of restaurants and buy their food through the franchisor, which also controls their real estate.

RBI was formed with Burger King’s purchase of Tim Hortons in 2014 for $11.4 billion, in what is the largest deal in restaurant history. The concerns suggest there has been at least some culture clash as the aggressive Burger King took control of the carefully cultivated system at Tim Hortons, which is something of an institution north of the border.

The association’s formation comes as RBI takes on another brand, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Inc., in a deal that closed last month.

Tim Hortons’ same-store sales declined 0.2 percent in Canada in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31. 

“Above all, GWNFA’s primary concern is that Tim Hortons franchisees are able to deliver on the exceptional quality, value and customer service that the Tim Hortons brand has become known for — and Canadians deserve and expect,” Connoy said.

Contact Jonathan Maze at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze

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