In a shareholder call on Thursday, Tim Hortons parent company RBI announced that sales plunged 12.9% in its fourth quarter, with comparable sales decreasing 11%. For the fiscal year, this resulted in an 18% dip in comparable sales from 2019. The company lost over $100 million in fourth quarter sales from last year.
Restaurant Brands International attributed the sink in sales due to decreased mobility around the world as a result of COVID-19, particularly in Canada which faces new restrictions. Late night sales have been hit particularly hardy, offset by lunch sales.
Overall store growth also decreased in 2020. The franchise shuttered 1200 Tim Hortons locations throughout the world and opened 1100.
The chain has made heavy investments in higher quality products and technology. The parent company was particularly proud of their digital drive thrus that have been implemented throughout Canada. They have also introduced a “new and improved” Dark Roast Coffee and freshly cracked eggs.
Jose Cil, CEO of Restaurant Brands Internation explained that this was essential to the company’s overall recovery strategy. “Driving rapid digital innovation has been essential to the recovery of our business,” said Cil. We increased support for and continued to build on our e-commerce platforms, reimagined service opportunities like curbside pickup and expanded delivery services into thousands of new restaurants. The outcome has been the more than doubling of digital sales in North America.”
Despite the slip in sales, the company says that the federal wage subsidy has largely contributed to keeping their operations afloat and eliminating the need for layoffs. The US has also provided financial relief at its American locations, which has eliminated the need for cuts. In their press briefing, the company did not go into detail about how much they had been given by the federal government.