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International Expansion of Tim Hortons (The)

Case 9 00 2021 001
Case published in the International Journal of Case Studies in Management, Vol. 19, No. 1
Languages : 
  • English
  • Internationalization,
  • Franchise restaurants,
  • Business model
Year of production : 
Registration date : 
Teaching notes included : 

Tim Hortons built a successful business in Canada by creating a vertically integrated company working with small-scale franchisees and incorporating its “Canadian identity” in its marketing strategy. The company’s internationalization efforts were much less fruitful, however, with 80% of outlets located in Canada, and just 18% in the United States. In 2014, 3G Capital – a Brazilian-American private-equity firm – acquired Tim Hortons with plans to speed up the company’s internationalization process. The new owner’s attempts to implement cost-cutting measures were quickly met with strong resistance from both franchisees and Canadian consumers and, in 2019, it faced two major challenges: at home, it had to restore the confidence of franchisees and consumers and, abroad, it faced stiff competition from chains that enjoyed a significant head start in new international markets. On top of everything else, it appeared that Tim Hortons’s business model might not lend itself to internationalization.

Primary domain : 
International business
Secondary domain : 
Not available
Sectors : 
  • Consumer goods
Source : 
HEC Montréal
Type : 
Traditional case (Decision-making case)
Type of data used in the production of the case : 
Factual data that is public and free of potentially litigious content
Event location : 
Canada and world
Year of start of the event : 
Year the event ended : 
Business size : 
Main themes covered


Teaching objectives
  • Identify key components that can prevent a business model that is successful in a domestic market from being easily internationalized.
  • Understand how a multinational’s position is conditioned by multimarket competition. When competitors are simultaneously present in several countries, competitive responses are more complex.
Concepts and theories related to the case
  • Key elements defining a business model
  • The interrelationship between the elements of a business model
  • Difficulties inherent to internationalizing some elements of a business model