Of the 26 new restaurants, 15 were opened in Ontario, which remains the focus of the company’s growth and represents the first time that more than half of A&W’s new national restaurant openings occurred in Canada’s largest province.
Graham Cooke, A&W’s vice-president of New Restaurant Expansion, expects the surge of new restaurant growth to continue for the next three to five years, at the least. “We introduced a multi-site development program in Ontario and Quebec in 2009 and interest from existing and new franchisees has been enormous,” he says. “We have since introduced the same program into B.C. and Manitoba. We are now essentially sold-out in these two western provinces.”
Among the 26 new openings this year, five were downtown locations — three in Vancouver, one in Calgary and one in Toronto — which represent the first wave of A&W’s new urban concept stores, which will typically appear in densely populated areas. “We are very pleased with the early results and will continue to target downtown markets in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal in the coming years,” says Rob Fussey, A&W’s director of Urban Development.
The first downtown Montreal urban location at Concordia University is scheduled to open in April.
A&W operates 730 restaurants in Canada, 720 are franchised.