Tims China, the master franchisee rapidly growing Tim Hortons across mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau, announced Thursday that it will spearhead growth for Popeyes as well.
The company purchased PLKC International (Popeyes China), which holds exclusive rights to develop and sub-franchise Popeyes in mainland China and Macau. Popeyes China brings $30 million in cash and Tims China will add another $60 million to accelerate development.
“This is a landmark day,” Peter Yu, chairman of Tims China, said in a statement. “With this transaction, Tims China gains a tremendous additional pathway for growth in the world’s most compelling consumer market. The track record of our team, who led the development of Tim Hortons in China from a standing start to over 600 stores in under five years, highlights the strength of our well-honed store development platform and infrastructure. We are excited to leverage what we’ve built to launch and grow the Popeyes business rapidly and efficiently.”
Tims China opened its first coffee store in February 2019. On January 17, the 600th unit officially debuted. The company has a goal of reaching 2,750 restaurants by 2026. In Q3, COVID challenges caused temporary store closures, reduced operating hours, disallowed dine-in services, lower customer traffic, and disruptions in supply chain. Despite those hurdles, Tims China debuted 46 net new stores, had 8.9 million registered loyalty club members, and saw same-store sales increase 7.5 percent, on top of 6.6 percent growth in the prior year.
Popeyes revealed in August that it entered an agreement with Cartesian Capital Group—the same company responsible for Tim Hortons' growth—to help it develop restaurants in China. The chicken chain had 4,091 stores worldwide at the end of 2022, including 1,170 internationally. That's up from about 2,700 stores when RBI acquired it in 2017. Outside of North America, Popeyes opened 180-plus units in 2022, a nearly 7x increase above 2017; that growth came from existing markets like Turkey, Spain, Brazil, and the U.K., and new markets, such as South Korea, India, and Indonesia.
“We are very excited about growing the Popeyes brand in China as part of our broader global growth strategy. We have strong confidence in our partner who has a deep understanding of the Chinese market and we believe it will position us well for success in the country,” David Shear, president RBI International, said in a statement.
Both Popeyes and Tim Hortons are owned by RBI, which also operates Burger King and Firehouse Subs.
Kirkland & Ellis LLP is serving as international legal counsel to Tims China.