Burnaby restaurants may never fully recover from the damage caused by COVID-19.
Between periodic closings due to pandemic restrictions and some people’s reluctance to return to restaurants, food sales are on the decline.
But there are signs of a recovery, including one of the largest companies operating restaurants in Burnaby.
Restaurant Brands International Inc. is the company behind Tim Hortons, Burger King and Popeyes in Burnaby. Popeyes is the last restaurant the company has built in the city.
Restaurant Brands announced earlier this week that its third quarter profit was up from a year ago and that its revenue grew by more than 10% – a promising sign but still well below pre-market figures. pandemic.
Restaurant Brands, which maintains its books in US dollars, said it had net income of US $ 221 million attributable to common shareholders or 70 cents per share for the quarter ended September 30, compared to US $ 145 million or 47 cents. per share a year earlier. .
The increase came as same-store sales increased 8.9% at Tim Hortons and 7.9% at Burger King. Popeyes recorded a comparable sales decline of 2.4%.
The company reported that its Tim Hortons outlets are struggling with a lack of foot traffic from workers – many of whom are coveted “high frequency customers” who buy food and drink multiple times a day. .
But a different story unfolds in rural and suburban areas, where restaurants are bustling and drive-thru busy, even as labor shortages make hiring difficult.
“There is a clear and focused brake on urban and super urban locations in our business,” said José Cil, Managing Director of Restaurant Brands.
Despite strong momentum at the start of the summer, he said the increase in COVID-19 cases linked to the Delta variant and the renewal of public health measures had halted plans to reopen and slowed the restaurant’s recovery.
“Downtown Toronto, for example, still hasn’t returned to work,” Cil told analysts on a conference call. “A lot of large employers have put off returning to (the) office until 2022.”
The dichotomy between sales performance across different sites underscores the uneven recovery as consumer habits continue to be shaped by the pandemic. Tim Hortons is also grappling with labor shortages, supply chain disruptions and rising costs – issues plaguing the restaurant industry across the country.
Many sites offer hiring bonuses to existing employees who recommend a friend to join the company, while others have launched hiring bonuses that entice new workers after a certain period of time, he said. declared.
“I know there are a lot of restaurateurs who pay more than minimum wage,” Fulton added in an interview. “All of these efforts are in response to the competitive landscape out there.”
Regarding menu price increases, he said the adjustments were made “very carefully and thoughtfully” to keep up with inflation.
But Fulton said Tim Hortons strives to stay competitive and is immune to some of the higher commodity prices and supply chain issues due to its size and long-standing relationships.
“We are fortunate to have a very large scale in the purchases we make, so that gives us the ability to lock in favorable prices,” he said. “We also have a sophisticated supply chain team that has long-standing, decades-long relationships with suppliers and transportation providers. “
- With a report from the Canadian Press