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Tim Hortons' UK expansion to create 2,000 jobs

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Canadian fast food brand Tim Hortons is planning a major expansion in the UK, hoping to capitalise on increased demand for drive-through dining.

Tim Hortons UK & Ireland said it hopes to open an outlet in "every major city and town" over the next two years.

The growth could create around 2,000 new jobs, the franchise operator said.

Tim Hortons, which is known for its coffee and donuts, opened its first UK location in 2017 and now has 23 locations.

The next opening is planned for December in Milton Keynes.

The expansion plans follow a 37% year-on-year jump in sales in the UK and Ireland in the most recent quarter, the franchise operator said.

"Despite challenging times for the sector, our drive-thru and flagship locations have delivered exceptional performance and our model is proving to be well attuned to the evolving needs of customers at this time," said chief commercial officer Kevin Hydes.

International brand

The Tim Hortons brand is owned by fast food giant Restaurant Brands International (RBI), which also owns Burger King and Popeye's Chicken. Together, the company has more than 27,000 restaurants globally, which it operates through a franchise model.

The firm has been pushing to expand that footprint, especially outside the US and Canada. In August, chief executive Jose Cil said the firm remained focused on that goal, despite the upheaval caused by the pandemic.

"We cannot predict exactly when the dust will settle, but we're confident that we will be well positioned to capitalise on opportunities for growth as we emerge from the crisis and continue toward the 40,000 restaurant goal we talked about last year," chief executive Jose Cil told investors.

Sales collapse

Sales at RBI dropped more than 20% in the three months to July, as lockdown forced many locations to close or restrict their offerings.

At Tim Hortons, which has more than 4,900 locations globally, sales fell more than 30%.

Mr Gil said the firm expected to end 2020 with roughly the same number of restaurants as the year before, despite unusually high numbers of closures.

In June, Burger King's UK boss warned it might have to close up to 10% of its restaurants.

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