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Tim Hortons aims to ‘refocus’ in year ahead after 2019 performance disappoints

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Tim Hortons is planning to “refocus” in the year ahead, after dragging down sales growth of parent company Restaurant Brands International Inc. in 2019.

RBI raised its dividend on Monday after reporting revenues of US$1.48-billion in the three months ended Dec. 31, up from US$1.39-billion in the same period the previous year. The company will increase its quarterly dividend to 52 US cents per share, from 50 US cents.

The company’s performance was boosted by growth in Burger King restaurants and the popularity of a new chicken sandwich launch at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. But Tim Hortons’ performance lagged. The coffee and donuts chain’s comparable sales were down 1.5 per cent in the twelve months ended Dec. 31, the company reported on Monday, while its other fast-food chains grew: sales at Burger King grew 3.4 per cent in 2019, while Popeyes had 12.1-per-cent growth. (Comparable sales are counted at restaurants open more than a year, an important measure to show growth that is attained not just through opening new restaurants. At RBI, the term is applied for restaurants open 13 months or more in the case of Tim Hortons and Burger King, and 17 months or more for Popeyes.)

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“At Tim Hortons, our performance did not reflect the incredible power of our brand and it is clear that we have a large opportunity to refocus on our founding values and what has made us famous with our guests over the years, which will be the basis for our plan in 2020,” RBI chief executive officer Jose Cil said in a statement on Monday.

Tim Hortons is the largest driver of total revenue for Toronto-based RBI through store sales and franchise and property revenue, even though it has far fewer stores than Burger King. It contributed US$872-million in the fourth quarter, compared to US$462-million for Burger King and US$145-million from Popeyes. Tim Hortons had 4,932 restaurants as of Dec. 31, while Burger King had 18,838 and Popeyes had 3,316. But the company is investing more heavily in expanding the store count of the other two banners as part of its plan to grow to more than 40,000 stores within eight to ten years. Burger King accounted for 1,000 of the 1,342 net restaurant openings in 2019.

Meanwhile, Tim Hortons will spend the coming year focusing on “fundamentals” to fix lagging performance in Canada, the company said on Monday.

Recently, a group representing Tim Hortons franchisees that settled lawsuits with the parent company last year, has regrouped and launched a recruiting drive under a new name. The Great White North Franchisee Association, which was formed in 2017 to represent restaurant owners’ concerns to management, is now called the Alliance of Canadian Franchisees. Tim Hortons has an advisory board made up of franchisees elected by other restaurant owners. It consults with the advisory board on business strategy and to hear franchisee concerns. At recent meetings with company executives, the new Alliance encouraged members to raise concerns that included low sales volume at some locations; glitches in the payment system; and frequent changes to the menu that complicated operations, slowed down service, and added to stores’ costs. One of those menu experiments was serving Beyond Meat imitation meat products in burgers and breakfast sandwiches. The burgers were offered for just three months, but the breakfast sandwiches stayed on the menu in B.C. and Ontario until late last month, when the company confirmed they would be phased out.

On Monday, RBI reported system-wide restaurant sales of US$8.9-billion in the fourth quarter and US$34-billion in 2019, representing full-year growth of 8.3 per cent, driven partly by 5.2-per-cent growth in the number of restaurants.

Net income for the three months ended Dec. 31 was US$257-million or 55 US cents per share, compared to US$301-million or 65 US cents per share in the same period in 2018. Its 2019 net income was US$1.1-billion, roughly flat compared to the previous year.

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Hong Kong Budget 2020: HK$10000 cash handouts for all adult permanent residents among raft of relief measures – Hong Kong Free Press

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Hong Kong’s financial secretary has announced a HK$10,000 cash handout to all permanent residents over the age of 18 in a bid to boost local consumption and ease economic woes in light of a fiscal deficit.


The relief measure involving an estimated expenditure of around HK$71 billion came amid negative economic growth since the second half of last year and the city’s first deficit in 15 years as the economy took a hit from the US-China trade war, large-scale protests and the coronavirus outbreak.

But Paul Chan remained confident that fiscal reserves, previously estimated at HK$1.1 trillion, could weather the cost of the handout.

“I consider that, with ample fiscal reserves, the government has to increase public expenditure amid an economic downturn to stimulate the economy and ride of the difficult times with members of the public,” he said as he delivered his fourth budget blueprint at the legislature on Wednesday.

paul chan

Paul Chan. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Chan also announced a salary tax cut of 100 per cent for the 2019-20 year up to a ceiling of HK$20,000 – set to benefit 1.95 million taxpayers and cost HK$18.8 billion.

Other relief measures for the public:

  • Rates for residential properties for 2020-21 will be waived up to a ceiling of HK$1,500 per quarter – estimated to involve 2.93 million properties and cost HK$13.3 billion.
  • Eligible social security recipients will benefit from an extra month of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance payments, Old Age Allowance, Old Age Living Allowance or Disability Allowance. A similar arrangement will be rolled out for the Work Incentive Transport Subsidy. It will cost around HK$4.23 billion.
  • Lower-income tenants in government public housing will have a month of rent waived, with a total cost of HK$1.83 billion.
  • Exam fees for students sitting the 2021 Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination will be waived, at a cost of about HK$150 million.
sophia chan

Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Relief measures for business:

  • Profits tax will be reduced by 100 per cent for the 2019-20 year to benefit 141,000 taxpayers at a cost of HK$2 billion.
  • Business registration fees will be waived for 2020-21, benefitting 1.5 million business owners at a cost of HK$3 billion. Company registry fees for annual tax returns will be waived for two years to benefit 1.4 million firms at a cost of HK$212 million.
  • A concessionary low-interest loan of up to HK$2 million will be provided to enterprises under the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme.
  • Rates for non-domestic properties for 2020-21 will be waived up to a ceiling of HK$5,000 per quarter in the first two quarters and a ceiling of $1,500 per quarter in the remaining two quarters for each non-domestic property. 420,000 properties will benefit, at a cost of HK$3.2 billion.
  • Non-domestic electricity accounts will enjoy a 75 per cent discount up to a ceiling of HK$5,000 for four months, at a cost of HK$2.9 billion. Likewise, water and sewage costs will be discounted by 75 per cent up to a cap of HK$20,000 and HK$12,500 respectively, costing HK$340 billion.
  • Local recycling firms will see a rental subsidy for six months, costing HK$100 million.
  • Tenants of government properties, government land and EcoPark will see rent discounts of 50 per cent, costing HK$573 million. Rent and fees for eligible operators of properties will be slashed by 50 per cent, costing HK$265 million.
  • Hirers of civic centres under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department will enjoy discounts of 50 per cent for six months, costing HK$23 million.

“In preparing this budget, I put the focus on ‘supporting enterprises, safeguarding jobs, stimulating the economy and relieving people’s burden,’ Chan said.

Paul Chan

Paul Chan. Photo: Inmediahk.net.

“Hong Kong may have all sorts of shortcomings, but it is our home which allows diversity and freedom of development. Even if we have been disappointed, we can choose to feel hopeful for our future. Even if we are striving for different goals, we can work together to put aside our differences, make room for resolving conflicts, and drive Hong Kong forward,” he said in his concluding remarks.


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GO Transit service disrupted after blockade near Kipling GO Station, several people arrested – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Thousands of GTA commuters faced a difficult time getting home Tuesday as rail protests hampered GO Train service.

New protests cropped up Tuesday on several rail lines, affecting service on the Milton, Lakeshore East and Lakeshore West lines.

At around 6:15 p.m., Metrolinx said that all service was resuming across all lines, but advised customers to expect longer travel times, residual delays and some cancellations throughout the evening.

The protests have been set up in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in British Columbia, who are opposing a pipeline project and infringements on their territorial rights.

A number of people set up a blockade west of Aldershot GO Station on Monday night and had remained on the tracks throughout Tuesday, forcing Metrolinx to suspend GO train service between Hamilton and Aldershot stations and replace it with buses.

Police served the protesters with an injunction ordering them to leave on Tuesday morning but did not forcibly remove them from the premises.

At around 5:15 p.m., CP24’s cameras captured the protesters peacefully leaving the area in two large groups.

However their departure came about an hour after another blockade formed on the tracks near Lambton Arena, in the area of Dundas Street West and Scarlett Road. 

Service was completely suspended along GO Transit’s Milton line due to that blockade.

Police said that severl people have been arrested at the demonstration.

Metrolinx said that it was unable to provide buses to supplement service along the route because it does not have enough of them to carry the 20,000 commuters that utilize the line each night.

The agency later said that the resumption of service would not rely on buses, but would involve trains taking a longer route to make use of a detour.

As of 10 p.m., a large crowd was still at the site of the blockade, along with a large number of police officers.

“We are on scene to keep the peace and ensure public safety for all involved and limit disruption to critical infrastructure,” Toronto police said in a tweet.

Service was also suspended between Union and Pickering GO stations on the Lakeshore East Line for close to an hour due to a disruption near Guildwood. Service resumed on that line at around 5 p.m.  

She said that while trains are moving, some are moving very slowly, resulting in backlogs. Other trains also had to turn around and return to Union because of the protests, resulting in a surge of customers waiting to get home.

“There’s just congestion all throughout our corridor,” Aikins said. “It’s an extremely difficult situation for all involved. We’re doing the best we can.”

She advised customers to stay tuned to the latest updates.

Aikins said Metrolinx is planning for the possibility of further disruptions in the coming days.

“We’re planning farther in advance right across our system,” she said. “These are security incidents that we just don’t know when they’re going to happen, when they’re going to end.

“They are out of our control and we’re doing what we can to make sure everybody stays safe. That’s our first priority. We want you to stay safe around our tracks.” 

The transit agency said late Tuesday that it is anticipating a normal morning commute for Wednesday morning, but warned that could change if there are circumstances beyond its control.

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Protestors seen leaving blockade west of Aldershot GO Station just as another blockade forms – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Chris Fox and Joshua Freeman, CP24.com


Published Tuesday, February 25, 2020 5:42AM EST


Last Updated Tuesday, February 25, 2020 10:11PM EST

Thousands of GTA commuters faced a difficult time getting home Tuesday as rail protests hampered GO Train service.

New protests cropped up Tuesday on several rail lines, affecting service on the Milton, Lakeshore East and Lakeshore West lines.

At around 6:15 p.m., Metrolinx said that all service was resuming across all lines, but advised customers to expect longer travel times, residual delays and some cancellations throughout the evening.

The protests have been set up in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in British Columbia, who are opposing a pipeline project and infringements on their territorial rights.

A number of people set up a blockade west of Aldershot GO Station on Monday night and had remained on the tracks throughout Tuesday, forcing Metrolinx to suspend GO train service between Hamilton and Aldershot stations and replace it with buses.

Police served the protesters with an injunction ordering them to leave on Tuesday morning but did not forcibly remove them from the premises.

At around 5:15 p.m., CP24’s cameras captured the protesters peacefully leaving the area in two large groups.

However their departure came about an hour after another blockade formed on the tracks near  Lambton Arena, in the area of Dundas Street West and Scarlett Road.

Service was completely suspended along GO Transit’s Milton line due to that blockade.

A media liaison for the blockade said eight people had been arrested at the demonstration.

Metrolinx said that it was unable to provide buses to supplement service along the route because it does not have enough of them to carry the 20,000 commuters that utilize the line each night.

The agency later said that the resumption of service would not rely on buses, but would involve trains taking a longer route to make use of a detour.

As of 10 p.m., a large crowd was still at the site of the blockade, along with a large number of police officers.

“We are on scene to keep the peace and ensure public safety for all involved and limit disruption to critical infrastructure,” Toronto police said in a tweet.

Service was also suspended between Union and Pickering GO stations on the Lakeshore East Line for close to an hour due to a disruption near Guildwood. Service resumed on that line at around 5 p.m.

Video captured by CP24 reporters at Union Station showed huge crowding amid the disruptions.

Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins said it was “very hard to say” how much longer it would take people to get home.

“If you can hold back from coming to Union yet – you can see how crowded it is – I would wait a little while,” Aikins said. “I would plan on it taking you much longer to get home regardless of your route.”

She said that while trains are moving, some are moving very slowly, resulting in backlogs. Other trains also had to turn around and return to Union because of the protests, resulting in a surge of customers waiting to get home.

“There’s just congestion all throughout our corridor,” Aikins said. “It’s an extremely difficult situation for all involved. We’re doing the best we can.”

She advised customers to stay tuned to the latest updates.

Aikins said Metrolinx is planning for the possibility of further disruptions in the coming days.

“We’re planning farther in advance right across our system,” she said. “These are security incidents that we just don’t know when they’re going to happen, when they’re going to end.

“They are out of our control and we’re doing what we can to make sure everybody stays safe. That’s our first priority. We want you to stay safe around our tracks.”

The transit agency said late Tuesday that it is anticipating a normal morning commute for Wednesday morning, but warned that could change if there are circumstances beyond its control.

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