Tim Hortons, the iconic Canada-based coffee chain, is all set to make its India foray with the first store expected to open in the Delhi-NCR region later this year. The brand’s India entry comes at a time when the specialty coffee chain segment and the coffee consumption witnessing a strong uptick in the past few years.

Navin Gurnaney, India CEO, Tim Hortons told BusinessLine, “We have a very aggressive plan to build the brand in the country. We plan to open over 120 stores in the first three years and eventually we aim to get to about 250 outlets in the next 5-6 years. All these restaurants will be company-owned and company-operated. At the same time, we have also begun talks with potential development partners for collaborations.”

The brand’s entry is being driven by AG Cafe, a joint venture entity owned by Apparel Group and Gateway Partners. AG Cafe is the master franchise holder for Tim Hortons for markets such as the GCC region, India and Bangladesh, among others.

In India, the first store is likely to open in the Delhi-NCR region by the June-July, followed by expansion into Punjab, besides other parts of the country.

Brand awareness

“There is strong brand awareness in various parts of the country for Tim Hortons. The coffee consumption and the cafe culture in the country has also been growing rapidly in the past few years and the pie is getting bigger and bigger with especially the young consumers - the Gen Z and the millennials - seeking global experiences. So we are very confident about the growth potential for the brand in the country,” he added.

Online play

The brand is known for its freshly prepared beverage range that includes French Vanilla Cappuccino and Double Double and made-to-order food and baked products such as bite-sized donuts called Timbits. At a time when online orders have seen a huge jump in the pandemic times, the brand will also have an online play through the food aggregators in India.

Gurnaney said that post the third wave, the restaurant industry has been witnessing a substantial bounce back in demand. “We are looking at various formats. There will be highly visible big format flagship stores and there will also be smaller neighborhood stores. We will also look at opening restaurants in office buildings, airports and highways. So it will be a good blend of these formats,” he added.

In recent years, the Canadian brand has been growing its international presence substantially.. Currently, Tim Hortons has over 5,100 restaurants across 13 countries, including the Middle East, China, the UK, Mexico, Spain, Thailand and Philippines.