It appears Tim Hortons is set to invade the United Kingdom.
According to current job postings, the coffee chain giant is ramping up its global expansion by opening multiple locations in Glasgow, South Wales and Greater Manchester. It’s also reportedly planning to set up shop in Northern Ireland.
Tim Hortons announced last year it was expanding to the U.K. and the Philippines, adding Mexico and Spain to the list this year. Meanwhile, the chain’s Canadian sales are slumping.
“When a company has fully exploited its own market, that’s when it goes abroad,” says Carleton University business professor Ian Lee. “Doesn’t mean they’re going to succeed.”
But Tim Hortons appears set on success — at least in the U.K. — even though so far it has only opened one full-service restaurant in the country, in Glasgow, Scotland.
Tim Hortons told CBC News that it doesn’t disclose information about future openings, but online job postings suggest the chain has much bigger plans for Glasgow and other parts of the U.K.
‘Huge plans for expansion’
The postings for Scotland’s largest city say the chain is “expanding across Glasgow” and is looking to hire “a number of tenacious and enthusiastic restaurant team members,” as well as in-store bakers, team leaders and restaurant managers.
There are also similar job postings for Tim Hortons’ locations in Greater Manchester in England and South Wales, along with declarations that the iconic coffee shop is “expanding across” these regions.
Tim Hortons warns prospective managers they will be busy. “We were overwhelmed with the feedback for our first restaurant in Glasgow with queues out the door,” it says in the job description. “It will be hard work but you will be working with a great team and your hard work will be rewarded as we expand.”
Another posting for an assistant manager in Manchester states that Tim Hortons has “HUGE plans for expansion,” aiming to open hundreds of restaurants in the U.K. over the next 10 years.
The company also appears to be moving into Northern Ireland. According to a report this week in the Belfast Telegraph, the chain is eyeing up to 20 locations in the region.
Tim Hortons would not confirm any details, only telling CBC News that its regional partner, franchise operator SK Group, is looking forward to opening more stores across the United Kingdom.
“We remain committed to sharing Tim Hortons’ iconic coffee, exceptional service and great food with new and existing guests,” the company said in an email.
Tim Hortons faced some skepticism when it prepared to open its first location in Glasgow in June, including jibes on social media about the quality of its coffee.
“Think U.K. would be impressed by weak coffee and bad food? They’ve had that,” tweeted one person. “I love Canadian things, but do they really want to send us bad coffee?” chimed in another.
However, crowds gathered for the opening of the Glasgow store and Tim Hortons says the location has been “well-received” so far.
Wow – line up for the new Tim Hortons in Glasgow. 100s in line for a double double pic.twitter.com/jtnBC9ByBX
Pending U.K. locations are also creating buzz online. A Manchester news story about the prospect of Tim Hortons coming to the region has generated nearly 1,900 comments on Facebook.
Many expressed excitement with posts such as “I’ve wanted to try Tim Hortons for YEARS I’m buzzing,” and “The maple dipped doughnuts are coming!!!”
But other weren’t so enthusiastic. “It has its own ordering language and doesn’t trust the customer with either milk or sugar, the coffee is pretty rank too,” griped one person.
TIM HORTONS IS COMING TO MANCHESTER!!!
Slumping sales at home
Restaurant Brands International (RBI), which also owns Popeyes and Burger King, took over Tim Hortons in 2014. Last week, the multinational company reported that Tim Hortons’ same-store sales fell 0.8 per cent in the recent quarter, largely driven by weak Canadian results.
Quick-service restaurants haven’t much room for growth in North America’s saturated market, Lee says. “The market is mature in Canada and the U.S., and so now [Tim Hortons] is looking for non-traditional markets.”
Lee believes people may eat up Tim Hortons in places like the U.K. because the country has become more Americanized. “It’s a much faster culture today.”
But he questions the move into Spain, where quick-service coffee and doughnuts may not be as big of a hit in a country where people like to linger over their meals.
“Food is not as utilitarian as it is in the English countries,” he says. “I would bet on England and Wales and Ireland before I would bet on Spain.”
As of the start of this year, Tim Hortons’ franchisees were operating 4,584 restaurants, with 82.4 per cent of the locations in Canada, 14.8 per cent in the U.S., and 2.8 per cent in the Middle East.