Beyond Meat burgers part of falling Tim Hortons sales, though RBI earnings jump

Beyond Meat burgers part of falling Tim Hortons sales, though RBI earnings jump
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Customer disinterest in Tim Hortons lunch choices weighed on sales in its latest quarter, though revenues at its parent company shot up thanks to the other two fast-food chains under the umbrella of Restaurant Brands International Inc.

RBI chief executive Jose Cil said Monday earnings at the coffee-and-doughnut chain “were not where we want them to be,” particularly due to lunch options such as sandwiches and wraps.

Tim Hortons wiped Beyond Meat burgers from its menu in September, two months after introducing the alternative-protein product at most of its nearly 4,000 locations across the country.

“We saw some initial trial and excitement around the product. But we launched it as a limited-time offer and when that window ran we decided it was best to take it off the menu and maybe consider other alternatives down the road,” Cil said in a telephone interview after the release of the company’s latest financial results.

Tim Hortons’ comparable sales fell 1.4 per cent in the quarter ended Sept. 30, offset by strong performances from RBI’s two other pillars, Burger King and Popeyes.

The signature Canadian chain’s store network grew 1.7 per cent to 4,887 restaurants across the globe.

Results were brighter at Burger King and Popeyes, thanks in part to a more successful plant-based product.

The Impossible Whopper propelled Burger King to its best third-quarter comparable sales increase in four years, the chain’s owner said.

RBI reported a nearly five per cent year-over-year increase in same-store sales at Burger King locations in the U.S. during the third quarter, crediting the launch of the Impossible Whopper for the improvement.

Burger King announced in August that it would start selling the plant-based version of its signature burger nationwide after a successful test run in seven markets. It first started selling the soy-based burgers, which are made by Impossible Foods, in April.

Toronto-based RBI also said that Popeye’s had comparable sales growth of more than 10 per cent in the U.S., one of its best quarters in almost two decades. The chain offered a limited-time chicken sandwich over the summer and announced Monday the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich will be back on its menus on Sunday.

Cil made the comments as the company, which keeps its books in U.S. dollars, reported overall revenue grew six per cent to $1.46 billion last quarter, up from $1.38 billion during the same period last year.

RBI reported a profit attributable to common shareholders of $201 million or 75 cents per share for the period ended Sept. 30. That compared with a profit attributable to common shareholders of $134 million, or 53 cents per share, a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, diluted earnings per share hit 72 cents, up from 63 cents a year ago, and roughly in line with analysts’ expectations, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 28, 2019.

—With files from The Associated Press

Companies in this story: (TSX:QSR)

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

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