Tim Hortons says it must be disciplined in its UK expansion

Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons, the popular Canadian coffee chain which recently opened its first UK site in Glasgow, has said that it will need to work through a number of challenges before it publicly launches any large-scale opening campaign.

The brand, which has around 4,500 sites worldwide, is conscious that it must test the UK market and tweak its offering appropriately at its initial outlets before rolling out.

So far, Tim Hortons has announced new openings in Manchester, Belfast and Cardiff to complement its Glasgow stores, but speaking at the Lunch! show on Friday, the group stopped short of announcing specific numbers and dates for any future expansion plans.

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Chief commercial officer Neil Littler told an audience that the company is not yet able to reveal its aspirations.

“What’s important for us, because it is a very unique Canadian proposition, bringing it over to the UK poses some issues and challenges and some things we need to work through. So making sure that we take our time and be disciplined in our development as well as validate the proposition in the UK is going to be important to us rather than open a store every single day,” Littler said.

But he did indicate that drive thrus will be an important part of Tim Horton’s UK estate, revealing that one such site will open in the country in the next few months.

He said: “It’s all about drive thru. Most Canadians who use Tim Hortons will use it through drive thru locations. Two million cars go through a Canadian Tim Hortons every day and it’s very interesting to watch. They are a really big part of the brand and we want to make sure they are part of the brand in the UK too.”

Littler confirmed that the business currently has no plans to move into a franchise model and also clarified that the brand will be focusing on its unique offering rather than branching into other ‘specialist’ areas of the UK food-to-go market.

Tim Hortons is arguably Canada’s most recognisable foodservice operator, boasting about 3,700 shops in the country. The group claims that eight out of every 10 coffee cups sold in Canada is sold by Tim Hortons.

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Joe Peskett

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