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A customer leaves a Tim Hortons coffee shop in downtown Toronto, on Oct. 21, 2020.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

In one of the surest signs Canadian workers are returning to downtown offices, Tim Hortons says sales at its “super urban” restaurants are rebounding to near pre-pandemic levels.

The coffee and doughnut chain’s parent company Restaurant Brands International Inc. QSR-T said Tuesday sales at its downtown locations jumped 30 per cent in its latest quarter compared with last year.

Tim Hortons’ inner-city coffee shops, often located near office towers and in food courts, were hit hardest by the work-from-home trend.

Restaurant Brands CEO Jose Cil called the turnaround at these locations a “testament to the improvement in mobility.”

“We saw accelerating underlying sales trends throughout the quarter as restrictions eased across the country and mobility increased,” he said during a call with analysts.

“Comparable sales at our super urban locations grew nearly 30 per cent year over year during the quarter, with each month growing faster than the prior.”

Tim Hortons posted “especially strong results” in March with comparable sales improving weekly, Cil said.

His comments came as Restaurant Brands, which also includes Burger King, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and Firehouse Subs, reported its net income attributable to common shareholders totalled US$183-million in its first quarter, up from US$179-million a year earlier.

The company said its profit amounted to 59 cents per diluted share for the quarter ended March 31 compared with 58 cents per diluted share a year earlier.

Revenue for the company, which keeps its books in U.S. dollars, totalled $1.45-billion, up from $1.26-billion in the same quarter last year.

Comparable sales at Tim Hortons rose 8.4 per cent, while Burger King gained 10.3 per cent. Comparable sales at Popeyes fell 3.0 per cent and Firehouse Subs added 4.2 per cent.

On an adjusted basis, Restaurant Brands said it earned 64 cents per diluted share for the quarter, up from an adjusted profit of 55 cents per diluted share a year ago.

Analysts on average had expected an adjusted profit of 61 cents per share and $1.39-billion in revenue, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

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