On the double double | Tim Horton’s to open 1500-plus shops in China

By Jim Boyce | Canadians will soon see a familiar brand in China as Tim Hortons, purveyors of comforting if somewhat mediocre coffee, plans to open over 1,500 shops.

“We have already seen Canada’s Chinese community embrace Tim Hortons and we now have the opportunity to bring the best of our Canadian brand to China with established partners who have expertise in the industry and the country,” said Tim Hortons President Alex Macedo in a statement.

Tim Hortons, owned by Restaurant Brands International, has a “master franchise joint venture agreement” with Cartesian Capital Group. Restaurant Brands teamed with Cartesian in 2012 to expand Burger King in China and there are now 900 restaurants.

“Starbucks had 3,300 stores in 141 cities in China as of May and plans to total 5,000 by 2021,” stated CTV News, underscoring the potential for Tim Hortons. “China is its fastest growing market and it opens a new store in the country every 15 hours.”

But it’s not all gold-paved roads for coffee chains here, especially those that sell donuts. Dunkin’ Donuts has made several forays into the China market over the past two decades, including one that started in 2016 and aims to open more than 1,400 stores, according to The Boston Globe.

“After a decade and a half of absence, American coffee-and-donuts king Dunkin’ Donuts is on its way back to Beijing–and its first store will be open by the end of January,” wrote Mike Wester in The Beijinger in early 2016. He was soon feeding donuts to Beijing-based fans of the New England Patriots football team, although he skipped on the localized specialities, such as the pork floss and seaweed topped option.

But several Dunkin’ Donut shops here in Beijing have since closed, including in Sanlitun and at the Silk Market. And a visit to the Beijing South train station outlet last month found coffee but nary a donut, although there were some muffins.

We’ll see it Tim Hortons, and its bite-sized doughnuts aka TimBits, fare better, eh?

Note: The “double double” in the title refers to a coffee with two sugars and two creams.

A Beijing Dunkin’ Donuts without the donuts. They do have muffins, though.

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