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Canada's iconic coffee, doughnut chain enters Chinese market for growth

2019/3/26 10:11:10   source:Xinhua

Canada's iconic coffee and doughnut chain Tim Hortons has made headlines with the recent opening of its first restaurant in China, the world's fastest growing coffee market.

The new restaurant, which opened on Feb. 26 in central Shanghai, marks the first step of the company's new initiative to launch more than 1,500 Timmies in China over the next ten years.

ATTRACTIVE GROWTH MARKET

Every detail in the Shanghai restaurant is meant to elevate the experience of visiting Canada's favorite coffee shop, according to the chain, run by Burger King-owner Restaurant Brands International Inc.

The restaurant features a lot of red and plaids, art work featuring the maple leaf and there is even a hockey stick door handle to pay tribute to its hockey heritage and well known love of the game. The design of the floor tiles is inspired by the image of maple leaves scattered on the ground in autumn.

"China is an attractive growth market and we can't wait for guests to try our classic favorites and some new offerings crafted specifically to the Chinese market," said Alex Macedo, president of Tim Hortons, which is named after the National Hockey League and Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Tim Horton, in a press release.

Tim Hortons is following the steps of international coffee chains such as Starbucks and Costa Coffee which are already well established in China. The second-largest world economy is becoming the most promising market for coffee consumption from traditionally a tea-drinking country.

While China still ranks relatively low in coffee consumption on a per-capita basis, at three cups a year versus 250 cups in the UK and 363 cups in the United States, total consumption grew at an average annual rate of 16 percent in the last decade, significantly outpacing the world average of 2 percent, according to figures from the International Coffee Organization.

Starbucks tripled its store count in China to 3,300 in 2018 from 1,017 in 2013. The company has plans to enter 100 new Chinese cities by 2022 while Costa Coffee is aiming for 1,200 stores over the same period, up from the 449 at present, according to Jing Wang, a San Francisco-based business intelligence manager at Alibaba Group.

TAILORED FOR LOCAL CONSUMERS

Though obviously facing the stiff competition in the Chinese market, Tim Hortons is confident that it can stand out with its classic and new food and beverage products as well as the brand's better recognition in the rising Asian power thanks to millions of Chinese immigrants in Canada, said Macedo.

"It's easy to understand 'why,' the bigger question is 'how,'"Macedo told a press conference in Toronto on Feb. 26.

He said they have been studying the Chinese market "for 18 months" in order to understand local customers so that they can offer the best and unique Tim Hortons experiences.

The Canadian business leader said they talked with Shanghai local people, referred to plenty of Chinese cooking styles, and tried almost everything to develop a whole list of menu items exclusively for the Chinese market while offering its classic food and beverages.

For example, Mocha drinks are something they found popular in Asia, and Tim Hortons Mocha Latte is born in Shanghai.

The popular snack dessert Timbits now has a very joyful Chinese name "Tian Qu Qiu," which means "heavenly fun ball" if translated literally in Mandarin.

Moreover, there is even one new addition to the dessert thanks to Chinese cooking culture - Salted Egg Yolk Timbit.

"If only they open a store exactly like that new one in Shanghai here in Toronto! I am sure that would be popular, too!" said Jessica Zhou, a Chinese Canadian girl who loves Tim Hortons coffee.

The new store in Shanghai looks fancier than the ones in Canada, Zhou said, adding she is very interested in that new salted egg yolk Timbit.

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