QSR’s franchised business model is a high-quality, capital-light, growing annuity that generates high-margin brand royalty fees from three leading brands: Burger King, Tim Hortons and Popeyes. The company has nimbly navigated the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to make progress on returning its brands to sustainable long-term growth.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has bolstered its safety procedures and is accelerating its digital investments by expanding its delivery footprint, modernizing its drive-thru experience, increasing mobile ordering adoption, and improving its loyalty programs. As the global recovery continues to be uneven, these initiatives will allow the company and its franchisees to serve customers in a safe and reliable manner.
Each of the company’s brands are at various stages in recovery, with Burger King and Popeyes having returned to growth, while Tim Hortons is well on its way to recovering. On a two-year basis, same-store-sales grew 2.4% at Burger King and 24.4% at Popeyes during the last quarter. Meanwhile, Tim Hortons in Canada has improved to a mid-single digit decline in July, with each month during the second quarter showing sequential improvement. Tim Hortons’ slower recovery is largely driven by strict COVID-19 restrictions in Canada, which were only recently lifted in large provinces such as Ontario. In rural and suburban parts of Canada where restrictions were lifted earlier, Tim Hortons has already returned to growth. Given the habitual nature of Tim Hortons’ customer base, the recovery in sales will be tied to mobility and reopening.
The company expects to return to its historical mid-single-digit unit growth this year, and recently announced expansions for both Tim Hortons and Popeyes in large international markets. As underlying sales trends at each of its brands continue to improve, and as the impact from COVID-19 restrictions ease, we believe Restaurant Brands’ share price will more accurately reflect our view of its improving business fundamentals.