Tim Hortons, Canada’s largest restaurant chain, plans to open 120 stores in the GCC within the next five years, the CEO of its local franchise partner, Apparel Group, has said. The coffee shop chain, which opened its first restaurant in Dubai in September, will open four new restaurants in the UAE before the end of 2011.
“With the growth in Canadian expatriates and the number of travellers who now visit the country, we know the popularity of the brand will grow here,” Nilesh Ved, chairman and CEO of Apparel Group, said in a statement.
UAE branches will include Deira City Centre, Dubai Outlet Mall and Mushrif Mall in Abu Dhabi. The brand is also in talks with other mall operators for further expansion, David Roy, managing director for international operations for Tim Hortons said.
“We’re certainly pleased with the initial guest reaction [in the first store], particularly during the weekends when it’s been very busy with families,” he said.
“We don’t have a specific timeframes for the other markets yet but certainly our focus will be on the UAE,” he added. Tim Hortons, named after the hockey player who founded the brand in 1964, is something of an institution in Canada with more than 3,600 outlets worldwide. In its home market the brand has a 40 percent market share of all quick service restaurants and serves up to two billion cups of coffee every year.
The UAE is home to an estimated 27,000 Canadian expatriates and the Gulf state is Canada’s largest trade partner in the Middle East and North Africa region.
The first UAE branch of Tim Hortons in Downtown Dubai was mobbed by Canadians before it even opened last month. “I went there when it first opened and there were these queues coming out the door and they were all Canadians so it’s actually bringing all of these Canadians together. It even tastes the same, it tastes like home,” said Canadian expat Heather Chuter.
“I think it’s reminiscent of routine for us, it’s a part of a daily routine so you go in the morning, or for lunch, it’s something that joints people together,” said Canadian Nicole Rogers. “It really is something people go quite crazy for; there was even one in Kandahar at the military base,” she added.
Tim Hortons in August reported a 1.5 percent increase in profit as it passed on higher coffee costs to customers and saw its US sales increase. The chain, which has previously struggled to replicate its success in the US, said sales in the US increased 6.6 percent and 3.8 percent in Canada.