Tim Hortons Revamping U.S. Units

DAYTON, Ohio -- Tim Hortons is looking to capture more market share in the United States with a revamp of its concept, including a redesigned bakery-café look, as well as upscale menu offerings such as baked goods and espresso-based drinks, according to a report by Nation's Restaurant News.

The redesign, currently at two locations in Dayton, Ohio, includes what Tim Hortons' Chief Operating Officer David Clanachan described as plush furniture, earth tones and muted lighting, as well as flat-screen televisions. The menu expansion features hot panini sandwiches and baked goods, including muffins, cookies, danish and cakes.

Espresso-based drinks such as lattes and cappuccinos were added as well. Average prices are the same, he said, with the per-person check averaging between $3.50 and $4.

"We're trying to give the U.S. consumer what he or she wants and is looking for," Clanachan told NRN. "We think there is real white space available in the U.S. for a concept like ours ... and let's face it, today you need to be that much better. Everyone is striving for the same U.S. dollar, so you really have to rise above the competition in order to compete for it."

Clanachan said an additional 10 to12 stores -- some in Ohio and others in a secondary market he would not name -- will be converted over the next year. If the revamp is successful, Tim Hortons Inc., the 3,500-unit chain's parent, based in Toronto, Canada, would expand the redesigned prototype to all 500 U.S.-based restaurants, he said.

Tim Hortons is a giant in Canada with sales from its Canadian locations reaching roughly $4.9 billion Canadian dollars, about $4.8 billion in U.S. dollars, according to market research firm Technomic Inc. Tim Hortons also has been pegged as a growth brand in the United States, where it saw sales grow 23 percent as unit count increased 8 percent.

Some of the biggest changes planned for the U.S. Tim Hortons units include a higher level of interaction between employees and customers, with an emphasis on baking, which now is done in front of the customer, according to Clanachan.

"What we're trying to do is really dial up the in-store experience to call out that something different is going on here," he said, noting the initial response from consumers during the three weeks the stores have been open has been positive.

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