Tim Hortons Expands to China

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“Tim Hortons has arrived in China, joining the high-stakes battle to sell coffee in a massive country that mostly drinks tea.

The Canadian coffee-and-doughnut chain, run by Burger King-owner Restaurant Brands International Inc., plans to focus on “everyday value” as it muscles up against the ambitious plans of local and foreign players such as Starbucks Corp. Its also debuting at a tricky time as a diplomatic row brews between China and Canada (…).

GEOPOLITICAL ISSUES

Besides joining a crowded field that includes Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc., Coca-Cola Co.’s newly acquired Costa Coffee and local startup Luckin Coffee, Tim Hortons faces a slowing Chinese economy and complicated geopolitical situation.

Its origins as a beloved Canadian brand may run into some nationalistic consumers, given the political tensions underway currently.

Chinese firm Huawei Technologies Co.’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou has been held in Canada at U.S.’ request since last December. The Canadian government said in January that 13 citizens have been detained in China since Wanzhou’s arrest.

Many Chinese consumers, however, seem unfazed. Canada Goose Holdings Inc., which opened its flagship store in Beijing in December amid calls for boycott of Canadian goods, downplayed the backlash fears earlier this month after it saw shoppers line up outside its store.

Tim Hortons has struggled to build a following outside its home country. The chain, named for a Canadian hockey star, is opening its first Chinese shop on Tuesday in People’s Square, in Huangpu, Shanghai and is banking on a growing middle class keen to try Western inventions like its honey cruller donuts.

“Tim Hortons will need to offer not just something unique that Chinese consumers can’t find at other chains, but also spend heavily on marketing to build awareness of the brand,” said Jason Yu, Shanghai-based general manager of Kantar Worldpanel in Greater China.”

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Taco Bell and Chipotle Want to Shave Time off Food Deliveries

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“When it comes to restaurant delivery, speed matters. And the burrito chains want to be faster.

Taco Bell –– which now offers delivery at roughly two-thirds of its U.S. restaurants through GrubHub Inc. with plans to continue expanding the service –– says its average delivery time is 34 minutes. The company acknowledges that’s not good enough for today’s demanding customer.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., meanwhile, says it’s averaging between 28 and 32 minutes for delivery, but it thinks it can shave four minutes or so as it expands pickup shelves across the nation. It’s also introducing prepaid delivery so drivers don’t have to pay in stores. It’s all part of a digital push that is a key part of the comeback plan laid out under Chief Executive Officer Brian Niccol in his first year on the job.”

“While restaurant delivery has long been part of the culture in major cities like New York and San Francisco, pizza was often the only option in many markets. That has started to change as on-demand delivery services like DoorDash, Postmates and Uber Eats have proliferated, joining GrubHub to expand delivery options.”

Read more here.