Amid ongoing race-equality protests and growing awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement, Restaurant Brands International Inc., parent to the Burger King, Tim Hortons and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen brands, is committing to diversity in corporate hiring, the company said Monday.
The Toronto-based RBI said it had made inroads in gender equality and sexual-orientation diversity, but in a coronavirus business update said it was setting goals in race equality in its corporate hiring.
“Despite some areas of progress in becoming more diverse as an organization, we have reflected on our insufficient racial diversity at RBI,” said José Cil, RBI CEO, in a business update.
“A week and a half ago, we stopped and joined together as a team to learn more about ways we could all serve as catalysts for change through ally-ship and advocacy,” Cil wrote. “While our charitable foundations do important work with African-American and Black communities in the U.S. and Canada, I will not diminish the fact that we do not have enough racially diverse voices and perspectives in our company and we're going to change that.”
Cil said the company is committing “to ensure at least half of all final-round candidates interviewing for roles with our four RBI offices will be from groups that are demonstrably diverse, including race.”
Cil added, “I am taking on this commitment along with our leadership team to ensure that this becomes a permanent diversity shift that permeates every corner of RBI.”
Cil, who has led RBI for the past year and a half, said the coronavirus pandemic had led the company to evaluate many aspects of its business.
The decline in sales that began in March with state and city restrictions on dining rooms led to improvements in home-delivery channels, mobile order and pay and drive-thru, Cil said.
“Our teams have rewritten code for our apps; reimagined service opportunities like curbside pickup; and expanded delivery services into thousands of new restaurants,” he said. “The outcome has been a significant increase in digital sales in North America, and we believe this trend shift to digital is what guests will continue to demand.”
On Monday, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, along with three provincial counterparts, said it was investigating Tim Hortons’ mobile-ordering app after media reports raised concerns about how it may be collecting and using data about users’ movements.
“The OPC will examine whether Tim Hortons is in compliance with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), Canada's federal private sector privacy law,” the office said in a statement. The office will look at whether the company is obtaining consent from app users to collect and use geolocation data, which could include the amassing and use of detailed user profiles.
In the RBI business update Monday, the company said that asof last week nearly all Burger King restaurants were open in North America and same-store sales were trending flat to last year. “This is driven by strong performance in drive-thru,” Cil noted, “given most of our dining rooms throughout North America remain closed or offer reduced seating.”
About 90% of the company’s Tim Hortons in Canada were open, with most of the remaining restaurants located in malls, food courts, sporting complexes and other public facilities that remained closed. Same-store sales were in the negative high teens last week, Cil said, improved from the negative mid-40s in mid-March.
Same-store sales growth at Popeyes, which remained strong through the pandemic lockdowns, remained in the high 20s last week.
“Nearly all Popeyes restaurants in our home market are open for takeout and delivery – with dining rooms mostly closed. In mid-June, the team also brought our Chicken Sandwich to Canada in a test market where we have seen really strong demand, giving us optimism that the quality of our sandwich will transcend markets and continue to attract new guests to our brand,” Cil said.
In Asia-Pacific, more than 90% of the restaurants were open. In Europe, Middle East and Africa, more than 80% restaurants were open. In Latin America, about 60% of restaurants were open.
RBI at the beginning of the COVID-19 orders in March drew down on its revolving credit facility. “Given the steady improvements we've seen in our business and our strong financial position, we are repaying all outstanding amounts under our revolver this week,” Cil said.
Cil said the company also was focusing on long-term investments such as its sustainability initiatives, outlined under its “Restaurant Brands for Good” banner.
Part of that initiative include a Burger King Whopper without colors, flavors and preservatives from artificial sources, he said.
Over the last 100 days of the coronavirus pandemic, Cil said, RBI has added voices to its crisis discussions.
“We have been able to move quickly and decisively while also including far more perspectives in the decision making,” he said, “But we still have substantial work to do to add more diversity to those voices.”
For the first quarter ended March 31, RBI posted net income of $224 million, or 48 cents a share, compared to $246 million, or 53 cents a share, in the same period last year. Revenues were down 3.2% to $1.22 billion from $1.27 billion in the prior-year quarter.
As of March 31, Restaurant Brands International had more than 27,000 restaurants in over 100 countries, including 18,848 Burger Kings, 3,336 Popeyes and 4,925 Tim Hortons.
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