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Trump's trade war won't stop Burger King from opening 1,000 new restaurants in China

Brian Sozzi
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Restaurant Brands (QSR) CEO Jose Cil still has a whopper of a number in mind when it comes to new restaurant openings in China — 1,000 to be exact, at least as it pertains to the Burger King brand.

Cil said on Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade Wednesday there have been no change in plans on Burger King’s aggressive expansion in the country despite trade tensions between the U.S. reaching fever pitch levels.

Concerns on the part of investors regarding the company’s China push are valid though. Opening up too many restaurants amid frayed trade relations could be a recipe for lackluster returns on those investments.

Nevertheless, Burger King opened its 1,000 restaurant in China in December 2018, some 13 years after it first entered the country. Restaurant Brands has said it plans to open another 1,000 Burger King spots in China over the next three years mostly via a franchised business model.

TIANJIN, CHINA - 2018/04/30: A Burger King restaurant in a shopping mall.  Burger King posted an impressive comparable sales growth of 3.8%, higher than the 3.5% growth anticipated.  Faster expansion and successful delivery strategy in China, become key drivers of revenues increase. (Photo by Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A Burger King restaurant in a shopping mall. (Photo by Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Cil also reiterated the company’s intention to expand the Tim Horton’s coffee brand — long known as Canadian focused — in China. The company opened its initial Tim Horton’s in China in February of this year, laying the groundwork for it to compete with the popular Luckin Coffee and Starbucks brands. Cil also teased a potential push with fried chicken brand Popeyes in the country, which would pit it against the dominant KFC.

Restaurant Brands overall, remains aggressive

At its first-ever investor day on Wednesday, Cil revealed a goal for Restaurant Brands to hit the 40,000 restaurant mark in eight to 10 years.

Reaching the 40,000 mark isn’t a pipe-dream — Restaurant Brands has grown its restaurant count to 26,000 currently from 12,000 in 2010. A large portion of that growth has been fueled by the acquisitions of Canadian coffee house Tim Horton’s (2014) and fried chicken joint Popeyes (2017).

And moving forward, China looks to be integral... despite the trade war.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-host of Yahoo Finance The First Trade. Follow Brian Sozzi him on Twitter @BrianSozzi

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