Mon, Jan 30, 2017 - Page 6 News List

‘Timmy’s’ goes to Mexico; Starbucks in crosshairs

AP, TORONTO

North American free trade might be under threat, but Mexicans will soon import a big taste of Canada. Tim Hortons is expanding into Mexico, making it the company’s first Latin American market.

Restaurant Brands International Inc said on Friday it has teamed up with a group of investors in Mexico to form a joint venture and open branches of the coffee, bakery and sandwich chain.

Few things unite Canadians the way Tim Hortons does. For half a century, they have warmed themselves on chilly mornings with the chain’s coffee and Timbits — or doughnut holes to Americans. It is a beloved homegrown chain. Seventy-five percent of the all the coffee sold at fast food restaurants in Canada comes from “Timmy’s,” as it is affectionately known. Tim Hortons is found in just about every small town and large city across Canada, and hockey-mad Canadians often head to their local Timmy’s before or after their kids’ games.

Restaurant Brands International CEO Daniel Schwartz said in a statement that the company is committed to taking its brand around the world.

“Mexico has a thriving coffee market, so we are very optimistic about the opportunity to grow the brand across the country,” he said.

That would put the company in competition in Mexico not only with Starbucks Corp — which shares a franchise operator in Mexico with Burger King Corp — but a growing number of other national and international coffee chains.

Tim Hortons has more than 4,400 outlets in Canada, the US and the Middle East. The chain’s aura in Canada originates from its namesake: hockey Hall of Famer Tim Horton, the co-founder who died at 44 in a 1974 car accident after playing in a game for the Buffalo Sabres.

Meanwhile, seeking to quell a social media campaign imploring Mexicans to boycott US companies, Starbucks defended itself on Friday, saying it had invested millions in the country, created more than 7,000 jobs, and that its local unit is Mexican-owned.

The statement came after disparate social media campaigns directed at US companies based in Mexico gained traction, following US President Donald Trump’s order to build a wall along the country’s southern border and promise to make Mexico pay for it.

In a statement, Starbucks said its Mexican operator Alsea has 560 stores across Mexico, representing an investment of 5 billion pesos (US$239 million), and sells Arabica coffee beans harvested in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas around the world.

Even so, a campaign urged Mexicans not to buy products from the world’s biggest coffee seller, with the hashtag #AdiosStarbucks trending on Twitter earlier this week.

Social media users have called for boycotts of US companies including McDonald’s Corp, Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Coca-Cola Co.

Earlier this month, a Mexican state governor said his administration would no longer buy cars from US automaker Ford Motor Co, calling on others to do the same after the company abruptly canceled a planned investment in the country.

Additional reporting by ReutersAdditional reporting by Reuters

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