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Tim Hortons gearing up for loyalty program rollout in 2019

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The parent company of Tim Hortons narrowly topped profit expectations for its fourth quarter. (The Canadian Press)
The parent company of Tim Hortons narrowly topped profit expectations for its fourth quarter. (The Canadian Press)

After reporting high adoption rates in several test markets, Restaurant Brands International Inc. says it is putting the finishing touches on a Tim Hortons loyalty program that will be rolled out later this year.

RBI, the parent company of the iconic Canadian coffee chain, has been testing a Tim Hortons loyalty program in seven markets in Canada. José Cil, RBI’s recently appointed chief executive, told analysts on a conference call following the release of fourth quarter results Monday that the different test programs have been popular with customers so far. In some markets, the preliminary programs have seen adoption rates as high of 20 to 30 per cent of all transactions.

“As a coffee leader in Canada, we sell nearly eight out of 10 cups of coffee in Canada and we’re constantly looking for new ways to interact with our guests and reward those loyal guests that come many times, more than once or twice a day,” Cil told analysts, adding that the company had rolled out different test programs with both analog and digital features.

We are still finalizing the test results and making decisions on which are going to be the final mechanics that we roll out to the system.”

The loyalty program is just one of many initiatives launched by Tim Hortons in a bid to restore loyalty and improve customer experience following a tumultuous period that saw the company clash with its franchisees while grappling with several public relations fiascos. Tim Hortons management developed a plan with franchisees in early 2018 – dubbed “Winning Together” – that focuses on product excellence, restaurant experience and brand communications.

RBI management says that, so far, the strategy is working. Daniel Schwartz, who stepped down as CEO in January to take on the role of executive chairman at the company, pointed to a survey by the Association of Canadian Advertisers and Ipsos, which ranked Tim Hortons as the sixth most influential brand in the country.

“We have made tangible progress against each of the pillars under our Winning Together plan this year with good momentum in the fourth quarter of 2018,” Schwartz said.

“It is worth noting that we have had several additional initiatives under each pillar of the plan that we have not yet implemented but that we’re very excited about.”

RBI narrowly topped profit expectations for its fourth quarter, but touted improvement in the coffee-and-doughnut chain’s Canadian business after executives worked to mend a tumultuous relationship with some franchisees. RBI said comparable sales at Tim Hortons locations grew 2.2 per cent for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2018 — the highest that figure has been in the last 10 quarters.

With files from the Canadian Press.

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