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Tim Hortons Repeats as Top Canadian Restaurant Chain, Ahead of McDonald's and Subway

(CHICAGO, IL) -- Tim Hortons (NYSE and TSX (THI),  founded by the late National Hockey League star defenceman Tim Horton in 1964, once again is ranked as the top fast-food restaurant chain, ahead of U.S.-based McDonald's and Subway.

Tim Hortons posted 2008 sales of $4.2 billion, growing 7.7 percent over 2007, according Chicago-based foodservice consultants Technomic.

McDonald's and Subway ranked second and third, with $2.7 billion and $1 billion respectively in estimated sales.

"Though the economy took a downturn in 2008, the Top 200 Canadian restaurant chains managed to grow sales by 3% while decreasing their number of stores by -0.7% to 22,530 units," says Technomic vice president Darren Tristano.

"With total sales of $22.8 billion, the Top 200 Canadian chains accounted for over 50% of the Canadian restaurant industry."
"The Top 200 Canadian chains continue to grow sales while shedding underperforming units by focusing on the value proposition for the customer," says Tristano.
"It's not just about pricing. The leaders have retooled their menus in many cases with local and organic fare, stepped up value-oriented limited-time promotions, and revamped restaurant décor. The limited-service category, and in particular the fast-casual segment, continues to benefit from the value focus and trade downs from full service."

Limited-service restaurants grew sales by 2.5% over 2007 to $16 billion, accounting for 70.1% of the Top 200 Canadian chains' sales. The segment's 19,323 units made up 85.8% of the Top 200 total store count, showing a decline of -0.6% from the previous year.
Though fast-casual restaurants are a relatively small portion of limited-service sales at 1.9%, their sales grew 11.7%.

Tristano says "chains to watch are U.S. players Panera Bread and Chipotle Mexican Grill, both of whom expanded into Canada last year."

The largest clusters within limited-service for 2008 were Hamburger with $4.6 billion in sales, Donut with $4.3 billion and Other Sandwich at $1.8 billion.The fastest growing limited-service clusters were Asian at 14.5%, Mexican at 7.3% and Donut with 7.1% growth.

Major contributors in these clusters were Tim Hortons, growing at 7.7% (Donut), Sushi Shop and Thai Express at 40% and 51.2% respectively (Asian), and Taco Del Mar at 32.4% (Mexican).

Full-service restaurants represented 29.9% of the Top 200 chain sales, or $6.8 billion, growing 4.2% over 2007. Their number of stores declined by 1.1% to 3,207, accounting for 14% of the Top 200 chains' total units.

Tim Horton founded Tim Hortons in 1964 in Hamilton, Ontario, offering only two products - coffee and doughnuts.  The chain has grown to 2,800 stores in Canada and 500 in the U.S.

Horton played 22 seasons in the National Hockey League for the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres. He died in an auto crash at St. Catharines, Ontario in 1874 at the age of 44.  

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