CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 21. . . .February 1, 2013
Tim Hortons is an excellent contribution to an exciting new series focussing upon iconic companies in Canada. The stated goal of the series is to explore the history, marketing techniques and the contribution of the companies to Canadian and international finance as well as profiling people and job positions in the company, thereby introducing readers to possible career paths. The ultimate goal is "to provide a clear understanding of how each company operates." All of these objectives are largely met in a brief volume that is heavily illustrated with mostly colour photographs that lack detailed source credits. Instead, the verso of the title page notes that images came from five main sources, including Tim Hortons and stock photo agencies. The number of Tim Horton locations in Canada (3,295 as of January, 2012) is displayed on a map of Canada showing the numbers by province or territory. This information is also displayed in a pie graph format using a sprinkle donut divided into representative segments by percent of outlets in each of the provinces/territories. Some additional data, such as revenue and sales growth, are also displayed using colourful graphs. Other features that are common to the series are timelines, a glossary of terms that appear in the text in bold (as shown in the excerpt above), a serviceable index, a quiz and an activity that helps the reader to apply the knowledge gained from the text. Unfortunately, there is no bibliography.
With more than 100,000 employees, mostly in Canada and the United States, annual sales approaching three billion dollars, and forty percent of the fast food traffic in Canada, Tim Hortons is undoubtedly one of the great success stories in Canadian business. The company began when NHL player Tim Horton opened his first eponymous donut and coffee restaurant in Hamilton, ON, in 1964. Soon he began a business relationship with Ron Joyce, an experienced fast food retailer who helped to grow the company and bought out Horton's widow after Tim was killed in a traffic accident in 1974. The official name of the company and its ownership have changed over time as have the products on the menu. Expansion into the United States was facilitated by its 11 years operating as a subsidiary of Wendy's restaurants from 1995-2006. Tim Hortons went public in 2006 with stock offering on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges. International expansion is taking place in the United Kingdom and Ireland and the Persian Gulf states.
The work describes the importance of brand to the success of the firm. Rose explores the role of slogans and marketing campaigns like "roll up the rim to win" and corporate sponsorships in efforts to support the brand. Brief job descriptions and educational backgrounds of the following current executives are provided: president, COO, CFO, and chief brand and marketing officer. Front line workers are covered in descriptions of the franchise owner, restaurant manager, designated trainer, team supervisor, and restaurant team member. Additional facts are provided, such as the cost of a franchise, the length of training that franchisees receive at the Tim Hortons University in Oakville, ON, and other qualities and requirements that the company expects in franchisees. Despite these useful facts, Rose should have explained more fully the nature of franchise operation that is core to this firm. For example, he does not elaborate upon the revenue sharing structure of franchises whereby the franchisees pay the parent firm a percent of sales plus funds for marketing, must purchase supplies from the parent at a considerable markup, and may be required to lease equipment from the parent company. Also unclear is what constitutes a restaurant. In many large cities, Canadians may find Tim Hortons self-serve kiosks and service counters that sell only a subset of the normal product line in hospitals, grocery and drug stores, gas stations and university campuses. In shopping malls and stand alone street operations, some with drive-through, customers may find a full line of services in a setting more closely resembling a traditional restaurant. (The Tim Hortons Annual Report for 2011 explains that both standard and non-standard restaurants, including kiosks, are counted as "systemized restaurants."Thus, the number of locations reported in this volume and in the firm's report may be a bit misleading if one considers that a kiosk and a full service stand alone restaurant are quite different.)
As one would expect in a book about business, Tim Hortons discusses the chief competition that the firm faces in Canada and ways that the company responds to changing market conditions. Health consciousness of consumers led to new menu items like low-fat sandwiches. Innovations, such as centralization of the bakery operations and adoption of new technologies including online stores, prepaid cards and even telephone apps, illustrate some of the ways that the company keeps adapting to a changing business environment. Saturation of the Canadian marketplace makes further expansion here challenging, but new partnerships and cross-promotion may help the firm continue to expand in untraditional markets in Canada and abroad. Rose also notes the firm's commitment to giving back to the communities that serve and supply it. The Tim Hortons Children's Foundation operates several camps for children, and local community programs receive funds and sponsorships. The Coffee Partnership helps build sustainable coffee communities in Central and South America. Scholarships are given to 200 team members annually in Canada and the United States.
Overall, Tim Hortons is a good introduction to the history and operation of a successful Canadian business organization, and it presents the reader with many important business concepts and illustrates data in a variety of ways.
Val Ken Lem is a librarian at Ryerson University in Toronto, ON.
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