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RSS FeedsJennifer Wells: Beating China rivals will be a tall order for Tim Hortons
(The Star Religion)


19 may 2019 14:00:12

Jennifer Wells: Beating China rivals will be a tall order for Tim Hortons
(The Star Religion)

The plan to expand Tim Hortons into China — Canada branding, maple leaf and hockey stick imagery — was received with a fair bit of hoopla when it was originally announced in July of last year. Opening 1,500 Timmies across a decade was the goal, Tim Hortons president Alex Macedo announced last summer, a promise that was followed with the opening in February of the chain’s first China outlet, in Shanghai.But even a year ago Tim Hortons looked late to the party. In reaffirming its march on the People’s Republic this week, part of a broader global growth announcement by parent company Restaurant Brands International Inc., the fast-service coffee chain appears worse than laggardly. And that’s not just because Starbucks, which entered China two decades ago and today has 3,600 stories stationed in more than 150 cities, re-emphasized this spring that China continues to take pride of place in its expansion plans. And not just because the purchase of Costa Coffee, still the top coffee chain in Europe, by Coca-Cola Ltd., is bound to mean aggressive expansion of Costa’s already established China footprint with 420 outlets.What really underscores the challenge ahead for Tim Hortons, which is starting from scratch in building brand recognition, is the lightning fast growth of a company you’ve likely never heard of.Luckin Coffee Inc. Ring a bell? Not with me it didn’t.In just a year and a half Luckin, which has gained investment backing from the likes of BlackRock, has grown from a first trial outlet, in Beijing, to 2,370 stores in 28 cities. On Friday three Luckin baristas, backed by the company’s executive team, ran the opening bell at the NASDAQ, celebrating one of the largest IPOs in the U.S. this year: 33 million shares at $17 (U.S.) a share.Behind the warp speed growth is the kind of story that should give a company like Tim Hortons pause.Luckin co-founder and CEO Jenny Zhiya Qian was the chief operating officer at UC ...
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