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Tim Hortons gets investment from tech giant Tencent, plans 1,500 outlets in China

Tim Hortons Shanghai
Tim Hortons flagship in Shanghai

MILAN – Canadian coffee-and-food chain operator Tim Hortons Inc. announced on Tuesday plans to digitize its business in China and add 1,450 stores in China thanks to an investment from the Chinese tech giant Tencent.

Tim Hortons said in a statement on its Weibo it would use the funds to upgrade digital infrastructure and open more stores in country. The company said it would expand store numbers in China from 50 now to 1,500.

The Toronto-based coffee chain will accelerate its digital innovation with Tencent’s mini-program, lightweight apps that run inside the messaging app WeChat.

Tencent has established a unique platform that opens up consumers’ online and offline lives. We will accelerate digital innovation, including the use of WeChat mini program, to bring customers a better consumer experience,” Yongchen Lu, the chief executive officer of Tim Hortons China, said in the statement.

The company’s China joint venture with Cartesian Capital Group has opened nearly 50 outlets in the country, said Tim Hortons, a unit of Restaurant Brands International Inc.

The first store was inaugurated in in February last year in Shanghai’s People Square.

Cartesian on Tuesday announced the investment deal with Tencent, although how much the company was investing or how any payback structure might work was not made public.

The price of freshly ground coffee of Tim Hortons is sold at 17 yuan ($2.4), similar to Starbucks’ pricing, while a cup of flavored coffee ranges from 20 to 30 yuan ($2.9 to $4.3).