CEO Blames ‘Small Group of Dissident’ Tim Hortons Franchisees

Tim Hortons, Chocrane, Ontario, Canada
 photo by Jerry Huddleston

Earlier this week Restaurant Brand International Inc. (RBI) CEO Daniel Schwartz blamed a small group of dissident franchisees at Tim Hortons for negatively impacting the company image. RBI is the parent company of Oakville, Ontario, Canada-based Tim Hortons, as well as Burger King and Popeyes.

RBI in turn is controlled by Brazilian private equity firm 3G Capital, known for its aggressive cost cutting drives.

“To be clear, a small group of dissident franchisees who have been the driving force behind negative media coverage does not represent the voice of the whole franchise system or of the company,” Mr. Schwartz said.

“Unfortunately, this continued media coverage has negatively impacted our guests’ [customers’] perception of our brand and our community roots.” — Marina Strauss, The Globe and Mail

But the Great White North Franchisee Association, an independent organization of Tim Horton franchisees, refuted this “small group” label back on October 20, 2017, saying over 50 percent of the Canadian chain were members:

We are certainly not just a ‘rogue group of franchisees’, or ‘a small group of disgruntled store owners’ that RBI would have you believe. We have grown into a solid and vibrant group of store owners who want to take their destiny into their own hands. Half of the chain has demonstrated that they believe in the accomplishments we have already made, and support the significant issues that we are continually bringing to light as we move forward. — GWNFA website

In contrast, the Tim Hortons franchisee advisory board, which like the great majority of franchisee advisory councils is franchisor friendly and weak in standing up for franchisees compared to independent franchisee associations, slammed the GWNFA, saying their public statements and actions were damaging the Tim Hortons brand. The statement was signed by all 19 board members. GWNFA attorney John Sotos of Canada has said that management refuses to talk to the association, a situation common to franchisor/association relations. Yet the franchisor and its franchisee advisory board apparently want the association to have its members lose money in silence under the franchisor's new changes that the association sees the advisory board as rubber stamping.

GWNFA board member Mark Kuziora was denied renewal earlier this month by the franchisor for one of his two Tim Hortons restaurants, a move widely suspected to be retaliation for his active role in the franchisee association.

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