At Burger King, sales are strong, particularly with the Impossible Whopper and in international markets. At sister brand Popeyes the chicken sandwich was the product launch of the year, if not the decade. But Restaurant Brands International has another brand that dragged down the company in the fourth quarter — Tim Hortons.
"At Tim Hortons, our performance did not reflect the incredible power of our brand," said Jose Cil, CEO of Toronto-based RBI in a news statement. “It is clear that we have a large opportunity to refocus on our founding values and what has made us famous with our guests over the years, which will be the basis for our plan in 2020."
RBI has a plan for their beleaguered coffee and doughnut brand, which saw comparable store sales decline 4.3% this quarter. System-wide sales growth declined 2.9%.
Cil spent the top of the company's earnings call outlining the multi-stepped plot to get Tim Hortons back on track.
"The team has spent months dissecting every part of the business, conducting extensive new research, spending considerable time with our restaurant owners, identifying the underlying causes of our weak performance and zeroing in on the large areas of opportunity to drive sustained long-term improvements in the business," Cil said during the call.
Axel Schwan, who was appointed regional president of Tim Hortons in October and joined the global leadership team of the parent company in December, was an integral part of the road map for 2020.
Tim Hortons is revamping its loyalty program, which has 7.5 million active users. The brand is moving to a points system, rather than a system that rewards visits, and the company is focusing on gathering user data.
The brand is also looking to move away from paper to digital menu boards for drive-thrus.
"Switching to digital menu boards in the drive-thru will free up time for team members to focus on serving guests while ensuring that the proper information is always on display. These outdoor digital menu boards will also allow us to tailor offerings depending on location, time of day, weather and more," Cil said.
Tim Hortons will also be revamping its coffee program. The company has started to install a fresh brewer system that replaces traditional glass pots. The company also plans to "respond to changes in consumers' taste preferences" by adding skim and almond milk.
"These adjustments may seem basic, but that's the point," said Cil. "Being the absolute best at the basics that we're already famous for." Improvements to the brand's bacon and bread were also discussed.
This time it'll be different, said Cil. Over the past few weeks, he's met with more than 1000 franchisees and hosted Q&A sessions.
"Our Tims owners, they're super passionate about their amazing Tims brand," he said. "And not surprisingly they have, as they should, high expectations of us as leaders of the Tims brand and business. And that's what I love about our owners. The community engagement, ops simplification, fewer more impactful new products, sharper brand communications, and of course, restaurant profitability."
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