Tim Hortons’ new phase of U.S. growth is beginning in Ohio.

The quick-service chain’s parent company, Restaurant Brands International Inc., has reached a deal with Ampex Brands to develop Tim Hortons units in Central Ohio over the next six years, the company said Thursday.

The development agreement is the second Tim Hortons has signed with franchisees in the U.S. in recent months. The previous agreement, signed in October with Seven Invest, was also in Ohio, in Cincinnati.

“Ampex, with a proven track record of growing a variety of QSR brands and a commitment to operational excellence, is the perfect partner to provide further growth opportunities for Tim Hortons while continuing to provide our guests with top quality products and great service they have come to expect,” Elías Díaz Sesé, president of Tim Hortons, said in a statement.

“We are excited to continue our expansion in the U.S., a market which truly represents a great opportunity to strengthen the Tim Hortons brand.”

RBI was formed in 2014, when Burger King’s controlling shareholder, 3G Capital, acquired Tim Hortons and merged it with the Miami-based quick-service burger chain.

The growth of Tim Hortons is considered a key element in the $11 billion merger’s future success. To win approval from Canadian regulators, Burger King agreed to accelerate its pace of development both in the U.S. and internationally.

Tim Hortons has traditionally struggled outside its home country of Canada, where nearly 80 percent of its more than 4,700 restaurants are located. The chain’s unit volumes in the U.S. are half what they are in Canada.

Traditionally, Tim Hortons has added locations through smaller operators that run a couple of locations. More recently, it shifted that growth strategy to focus on larger operators who develop huge swaths of locations.

Such strategies can enable a franchised chain grow more quickly, but they can also be risky for a franchisor because it depends on a few operators to grow the chain. A developer that struggles early might not meet development projections.

In this instance, Ampex has agreed to “aggressive development commitments” in the Columbus, Dayton and Zanesville, Ohio, markets over the next six years.

Ampex Brands operates A&W Restaurants, Long John Silver’s, KFC and Taco Bell locations. The company primarily operates restaurants in Texas, but in 2011 bought KFC locations in Chicago.

“After looking at several QSR brands, we decided that Tim Hortons’ great food, high-class employees, guest-driven focus, focus on operational excellence and vision for growth make it the most compelling opportunity in the industry,” Ampex CEO Tabbassum Mumtaz said in a statement.

In addition, Mike Forbes, who has owned a Tim Hortons unit with his wife Trina since 1999, will join the Ampex Brands operation in Columbus.

Restaurant Brands International hopes the deal will help accelerate Tim Hortons’ U.S. growth.

“These agreements are the right model to help bring to life our vision of delivering a great guest experience while building and strengthening the Tim Hortons brand in the U.S.,” RBI CEO Daniel Schwartz said in a statement. “We look forward to expanding our presence in these and additional communities with our new and future partners.”

Contact Jonathan Maze at jonathan.maze@penton.com.
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