No Timbit tantrums
The double-double will still be on the counter.
Author: Liam Fitz-Gerald
On Aug.26, Tim Hortons – an icon as beloved to Canadian nationalists as Rocky and Bullwinkle, hockey, maple syrup and excessive politeness – announced that Burger King Worldwide Inc. was purchasing them for $12.5 billion. Furthermore, the latter announced that the new conglomerate headquarters would be moved to Oakville, Ontario, while the Miami HQ would continue as a worldwide operations center. Although fierce debate in the United States has centered on “tax inversion” (companies moving corporate HQs to lower tax countries to avoid US taxes) the debate in Canada has centered on the future “Canadianess” of Tim Hortons and if it will suffer as a result.
For many Canadians, there are certainly reasons to worry about such a takeover. Business News Network spoke with a Toronto woman on the day of the announcement that wondered aloud if Burger King would “screw up” the Canadian emblem. She praised Tims for its innovation and willingness to try new products and efficient customer service. On Twitter, some Canadians lamented seeing “an American giant who cares the least, in fast food about quality, buy our beloved Timmy’s.” Many criticisms echoed this concern, fearing the merger would mean a specific loss of Canadian identity, with one Twitterer proclaiming, “Timmies here in Canada is an INSTITUTION. The Yanks just cannot comprehend that.” Others voiced concern about Tims’ future involvement in communities as the corporation promotes the Timbits Minor Sports, offering sponsorship to house-leagues for young kids and its Free Swimming program, which supports the aforementioned activity at pools every summer.
Fellow Canadians, please. Relax. There are both short-term and long-term reasons why Tim Hortons may not suffer. In the short-term (45-75 days), Ottawa must conduct a review to approve the merger. Furthermore, the details will not be smoothed out until early 2015. So rest assured, tomorrow you will not line up in Riddell and see American flags on Tims cups, Uncle Sam uniforms and Whopper Timbit value combos.
The long term is trickier to predict because the future is obviously unknown. However, there are strong reasons why Tims may not suffer. For one thing, its American parent company might be many things but stupid is not one. They know how profitable this franchise and its community image are here. Tims has dominated the Canadian coffee market while Burger King has struggled against competitors in the US. There may be aesthetic changes and new types of products served in Tims. Given the sensitivity of the issue however, the company may just leave in the current model intact. In fact, the franchise might become more Canadian.
Secondly, many Canadians seem to forget that Wendy’s, another American company, acquired Tim Hortons in 1995. This was a relationship that lasted until 2006. It was also during the 1990s, according to author Douglas Hunter in a CBC interview, when Tim Hortons really took off as a cultural phenomenon. It was during this period of foreign ownership that they really took off as a Canadian company.
Rest easy Canadians. While Tims is now in Burger King’s hands, you’re unlikely going to see any differences. Focus on other important issues.