Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

A woman walks pass a Tim Hortons in Toronto on Aug. 2, 2017.

The Canadian Press

The corporate reputation of coffee-and-doughnut chain Tim Hortons has taken a significant hit, an annual survey finds.

For the first time in more than a decade – except for a slight aberration in 2013 – Tim Hortons Inc. is not among the top 10 companies or brands in terms of its reputation among consumers, the study by research firm Leger shows. Tim Hortons slipped to No. 50 from No. 4 last year, says the corporate reputation report, which is to be released on Thursday. (Tim Hortons came in 13th in 2013.)

The results come as Tim Hortons faces rising discontent from its franchisees about the management of the company and its heavy cost cutting, which they have said is hurting the brand. More recently, the company has come under attack for the way some of its franchisees in Ontario responded to higher minimum wages by scaling back employee benefits. The franchisees countered that the company, acquired in late 2014 by Brazilian private equity firm 3G Capital, failed to help them deal with the steeper costs of higher wages.

Story continues below advertisement

Amid the negative publicity, the reputation of the chain, Canada’s largest in the restaurant field, is slipping markedly , said Christian Bourque, executive vice-president at Leger.

“It’s a considerable drop,” he said in an interview.

Companies count on a solid reputation to help draw customers to their business. And while Tim Hortons’s overall sales are still climbing as the company opens more restaurants, its sales at existing – a key industry metric – dipped 0.1 per cent in 2017 compared with an increase of 2.5 per cent the previous year.

The shares of parent company Restaurant Brands International Inc. of Oakville, Ont., have slipped more than 10 per cent on the Toronto Stock Exchange since October.

Tim Hortons said in an e-mailed statement it and its restaurant owners are committed to providing its customers, whom it calls guests, “with the very best experience. We are confident that we have a strong plan and a positive agenda to continue to evolve our brand and meet the needs of our guests for years to come.”

It’s the second survey in the past week or so to suggest Tim Hortons is taking a hit to its brand. Last week, an annual survey measuring the “most influential brands” in Canada showed Tim Hortons fell out of its top 10 brands for the first time in six years – to 16th from ninth.

Jeff Dover, principal at food-services consultancy fsSTRATEGY, said Tim Hortons has felt the pressure of bad press and negative social-media comments in the past while, especially tied to the minimum-wage hikes in Ontario in January.

Story continues below advertisement

Tim Hortons has also been feeling the heat from rival McDonald’s, which has been putting more focus on its coffee offerings.

“But there are a lot more people who prefer coffee at Tim Hortons,” Mr. Dover added, pointing to long lineups in the morning for a double-double. “It’s a very strong brand still.”

Rick Murray, managing partner at National Public Relations, said Canadians expect companies to act in a fair and moral way. “The precipitous and unprecedented decline are proof that they don’t think Tim’s is.”

Mr. Bourque said it can take two or three years for a company to recover from a hit to its reputation rating.

The Leger survey, conducted between mid-December and Jan. 21 among more than 13,000 consumers, found that 73 per cent of respondents had a positive opinion of Tim Hortons and 20 per cent had a negative opinion – for an overall score of 53 per cent. Last year, it found that 87 per cent of respondents had a positive opinion of Tim Hortons and 9 per cent had a negative opinion for an overall score of 78 per cent.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Bourque said that, even among the top 10 companies, overall scores were lower than in the past – except for Dollarama Inc., whose score was higher. The overall decline in scores suggests that consumers’ level of trust in companies is generally dropping, he said.

Still, the top three companies were the same ones as last year: Google Inc., Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. and Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd., in that order. Sony replaced Tim Hortons in the No. 4 spot, after being in 5th place last year.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to
Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons or for abuse. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies