Kevin Hydes, chief commercial officer of Tim Hortons UK & Ireland, says the Canadian brand aims to have drive-thru restaurants in every major city and town in the UK by 2022
Tell us about the origins of Tim Hortons
The famed restaurant group was founded by national hockey league legend Tim Hortons, who opened his first store in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada in 1964.
After Tim passed away in 1974, his business partner, Ron Joyce, the first franchisee, continued building the business and growing the brand rapidly.
North America is now home to over 4,000 restaurants, serving Canada’s favourite coffee and freshly baked goods.
When and why was the brand launched in the UK?
After more than 50 years, the iconic brand crossed the pond in 2017 and made its way to the UK. It’s built a strong fan base over the years and we knew there would be a huge demand for it in the UK.
We opened our first site in 2017, but unlike many of our competitors we made the brave decision to initially focus our efforts in the north of the UK, opening our first restaurant in Glasgow. We found the north of England and Scotland to have the highest brand awareness of Tim Hortons, citing many family connections to Canada.
How many UK franchises do you have and where are they located?
Tim Hortons currently has 23 restaurants in the UK, with the majority of our stores located in Scotland and the north of England.
We made our first expedition in the south of England in December 2020, where we opened a new drive-thru site in Milton Keynes.
Tell us about the drive-thru business model you’re planning to roll out in the UK
We’ve proven that our drive-thru model is one that works well and we’re very happy with the results we’ve achieved from this store type.
Tim Hortons UK & Ireland experienced 37 per cent growth in sales performance year-on-year in the last quarter and we feel we’re now in a position where we can confidently look to drive that number up significantly.
Consumers are looking for venues that deliver excellent menu choice throughout the day and our drive-thru restaurants can certainly support that. They have a multipurpose use and are accessible to customers for all drinking and dining occasions.
As we expand our model, we feel it’s still important to offer both a dine-in and drive-thru experience, so that our guests can engage with our brand how they wish.
We also will continue to work in partnership with delivery platforms Uber Eats, Just Eat and Deliveroo to make the brand even more accessible in the locations we operate in.
Why have you decided now’s the time to kick-start your ambitious growth plans?
We have tested a number of formats across the UK, with successful launches in Glasgow, Belfast, Manchester and the Midlands.
Despite challenging times for the sector, our drive-thru and flagship locations have delivered exceptional performance and our model is proving to be well attuned to the evolving needs of customers at this time.
We have seen a spike in demand for our drive-thru restaurants and know now is the right time to aggressively pursue the opportunity. We have a dedicated acquisition and construction team behind us supporting our ambitious growth plans. We’ve come in here to be leaders in the marketplace.
How is the brand being operated in the UK?
Tim Hortons UK & Ireland has the master franchise rights to develop the brand in the UK and Ireland. As it’s a franchise model, Tim Hortons UK & Ireland pay for the rights to operate the brand here.
Where do you see the UK business being in five years’ time?
Tim Hortons will be available in every major city and town across the UK and we’ll be a leader within the quick-service restaurant marketplace.