Week of Nov. 15, 2010



Tim Hortons Earnings Up Despite 36 U.S. Store Closures
Despite aggressive U.S. expansion plans, 36 of the Oakville, Ont.,-based Tim Hortons stores are closing in Hartford, Conn., and Providence, R.I. The good news is Tim Hortons’ other U.S. stores remain profitable. The company has reserved a one-time $20.9-million charge against earnings in the latest quarter despite net earnings, which rose 20.4 per cent to $73.8 million. Total revenue grew 9.8 per cent to $670.5 million. The quarterly report also revealed most of the $430-million proceeds from the sale of its Maidstone Bakery will be used to buy back shares on the open market, while $30 million will be used to help franchisees offset the impact of anticipated increases in operating costs. “We continued to create sales momentum in the third quarter with strong operating performances in both our Canadian and U.S. segments,” said Don Schroeder, president and CEO.

McDonald’s October Sales Up
McDonald’s Corp., Oak Brook Ill., has reported a 6.5-per-cent gain in global same-store sales in October with increases in Europe (5.8 per cent); the U.S. (5.6 per cent); and Asia/Pacific, the Middle East and Africa (5.3 per cent). The U.S. gains are attributed to the popularity of the Monopoly Game promotion, the Real Fruit Smoothies, the McCafé frappes and good weather.

October Credit Card Use Up in U.S. Restaurants
Spending by U.S. consumer credit- and debit-card users increased 9.5 per cent in October, compared to last year — the highest growth rate in more than 18 months, according to the monthly “SpendTrend” report by Atlanta, Ga.-based payment processor First Data Corporation. SpendTrend tracks same-store consumer spending via credit, signature debit, PIN debit and EBT cards at U.S. merchant locations. October’s same-store dollar volume growth was 6.7 per cent and transaction growth was 8.6 per cent. For more information, click here.  

Fast-Food Kids Meals Get Failing Grade
Fast-food companies came under attack last week by the Yale University Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity for meal combos and marketing toward children and teenagers. In a new report entitled Fast Food FACTS – Food Advertising to Children and Teens, head researcher Jennifer Harris, director of Marketing Initiatives at the Rudd Center, reported only 12 out of 3,000 kids’ meal combos, and 2,781 menu items offered at 12 of the largest U.S. fast-food chains, provide adequate nutrition for children aged two to five. Meanwhile, only 15 of the meals provide adequate nutrition for older children. Described as the most comprehensive study of fast-food nutrition and marketing ever conducted, the report was presented at the Denver annual meeting of the American Public Health Association. Subway is reported to offer the best meal choices for kids, according to the study. On the marketing front, the report found fast-food companies spent more than US$4.2 billion on marketing and advertising in 2009, promoting product most dominantly on television, mobile applications and online, including social media sites. For the complete report, click here.

Mucho Burrito Opens First of 50 U.S. Units
Mississauga, Ont.-based Mucho Burrito recently opened the first of 50 planned U.S. units in Lynnwood, Wash. Feisal Ramjee and Roy Woolsey, founders of MB Development, Inc., hold state franchise rights and have more than 30 years of restaurant and business experience in franchise operations. “We look forward to bringing our upscale offering to local guests and further positioning ourselves as the premier concept in the Mexican category,” said Alex Rechichi, co-founder and president of Mucho Burrito. Launched in June 2006, there are 32 Mucho restaurants throughout Canada, with 200 national and international locations planed for the next five years. Mark Cunningham, executive vice-president of International Operations and Business Development, leads international expansion.

Cardinal’s Cator Inducted into Meat Industry Hall of Fame
Ralph Cator, the founder of Cardinal Meat Specialists Limited, recently became the first Canadian inducted into the Meat Industry Hall of Fame. Cator founded Cardinal in 1966, and since that time, it has grown to supply meat, poultry and fresh and packaged products on a national level. Today, the meat company produces approximately three-million burgers a week, along with 300,000 cooked meat products in its two Mississauga, Ont., facilities. “Cardinal’s success lies in our commitment to quality and innovation. We have set industry standards in the adoption of new technologies, food safety, product innovation and employee engagement,” said the founder. Cator is in good company, other Hall of Fame inductees include: McDonald’s founder, Ray Kroc; Wendy’s founder, Dave Thomas; and KFC’s iconic Colonel Sanders.

Thirty-five Wines Awarded Gold at InterVin
More than 960 wines from 13 countries were judged in the 2010 InterVin International Wine Awards, with 35 awarded gold at a three-day blind-tasting competition at White Oaks Resort & Spa in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. The gold winners were Hillebrand Winery 2009 Showcase Riesling Ghost Creek Vineyard (best white), Inniskillin Wines 2007 Vidal Icewine (best sweet wine) and Pacific Breeze Winery 2007 Killer Cab (best red). Meanwhile, 137 silver and 386 bronze awards as well as 28 special Judge’s Choice for Value citations were also handed out. The judging panel was comprised of distinguished sommeliers, wine writers, educators and winemakers, including head judge Christopher Waters, editor of Vines magazine, as well as James Treadwell, Jamie Drummond, Margaret Swaine, Linda Bramble, Darryl Brooker and Craig McDonald. For more information, click here.

Graffigna Wines Celebrates Canadian Launch
Graffigna Wines held its official Canadian launch party last week in the heart of Toronto’s Fashion District. Attendees circled the swank, urban venue sampling several options available at the LCBO, such as the Pinot Grigio and the Syrah as well as several bottles not yet on Canadian shelves, including a Malbec, a Cabernet Sauvignon and a signature blend — all from the winery’s Santiago collection. And, Canadians growing appetite for Argentinean wine shows, as Emilio Ferro, the winery’s brand development manager for North America, told the crowd Canada is Argentina’s number-2 export market worldwide, importing about a million cases more per year than the U.K.

Timothy’s Introduces Vienna-Inspired Treats
Timothy’s World Coffee is giving customers a taste of Europe with news the brand has partnered with the Vienna Tourist Board to bring Viennese-inspired beverages and treats to Canada for the holiday season. “We want to give Canadians the opportunity to experience the ritual of coffee drinking that has become such an integral part of Viennese culture,” said Luana Guglielmi, Timothy’s senior brand manager. Customers can now partake in Café Vienna, which blends dark brewed coffee with espresso and steamed milk, topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Chocolate lovers can have a Double Chocolate Schokolade, which is a rich Viennese hot chocolate infused with fudge and topped with chocolate shavings and cinnamon. And, to add even more authentic Viennese charm, the Austrian city’s trademark cookies, comprised of raspberry jam sandwiched between hazelnut shortbread, are also available. What’s more, customers will also have the chance to win one of two trips to Vienna by entering online at timothyscafes.com/Vienna before Dec. 31, when the promotion ends.

FMI Launches Food Safety and Protection Centre
The Food Marketing Institute (FMI), Arlington, Va., has opened The Center of Excellence for Food Safety and Protection, led by Jill Hollingsworth, who has become FMI’s senior vice-president. The Center brings together food-safety experts and professionals in government relations, asset protection, food defence, supply chain management, health and wellness, sustainability and industry relations to address all aspects of food safety. “The Center will serve as a resource to consolidate our knowledge of food safety and strengthen our commitment to ensuring food we sell is as safe as possible,” said FMI president and CEO, Leslie G. Sarasin.

Bento Sushi Announces Sustainable Seafood Commitment
The Toronto-based Bento Nouveau, is celebrating its 15th anniversary by becoming Canada’s first sustainable sushi company. Working in partnership with the SeaChoice program, Bento plans to supply 100-per-cent sustainable seafood by 2012. Bento serves more than 10-million handmade servings of sushi per year through a network of quick-service ‘grab-and-go’ sushi bars in shopping malls, office towers, supermarkets, foodservice outlets and institutional foodservice locations. Its brands include: Bento, Bento Express and Bento Sushi.

USDA Optimistic About Canadian Foodservice Growth
The November GAIN Report (Global Agriculture Information Network) of the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service (report number CA0042), predicts 2010 Canadian foodservice sales will increase by $1.9 billion, or 3.1 per cent, to $62.1 billion. The gain is attributed to “a healthy recovery in Canada’s economy, combined with rising disposable income…as consumer confidence increases.” It reads: “Canada’s restaurant and foodservice industry plays a key role in Canada’s economy…[and] accounts for nearly four per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product, [employing] more than one million people.”

Bill DeForrest Named IAHI Chairman
IAHI, the Owners’ Association, the international association of some 3,000 InterContinental Hotels Group owners and operators, has appointed Bill DeForrest chairman of the IAHI Board of Directors. A 30-year industry veteran, DeForrest currently serves as president and CEO of Northbrook, lll.-based Lane Hospitality.

New Dominion Grand Hotel Group Launches with Three Contracts
Dominion Grand Development Group Inc. is growing with the announcement of the newly created Dominion Grand Hotel Group Inc., which already has its first three hotel management agreements. The Dominion Grand Hotel Group will be led by hotelier Mike Jackson and will provide management services to the Braemar Group’s Best Western and Comfort Suite Hotels in Kelowna, B.C. and Comfort Inn and Suites in Medicine Hat, Alta. “We are thrilled and proud to have the opportunity to manage the operations of these award-winning, well-respected hotels and appreciate the confidence of the owners. We look forward to expanding on their success and profitability,” said Jackson, president and COO of Dominion Grand Hotel Group. Rod Hazard, owner of The Braemar Group added, “We are confident Mike and the Dominion Grand Hotel Group bring a great depth of hotel and business experience to the table. They understand our unique needs, are closely aligned with our goals and offer a fresh perspective — all fundamental to our mutual success.”

Memoir Celebrates “Hotelier to the Stars”
Hotel industry veteran Hans Gerhardt is releasing his memoir, which recounts his 50 years in hospitality and his role as president and managing director of Sutton Place Hotel, Toronto. Hotel Biz – A Memoir has received rave reviews from a range of critics, including actor Christopher Plummer who calls it “A riveting and often most touching life story.” Prominent television personality Robin Leach said: “HotelBiz is an extraordinarily intimate story of how [Gerhardt] became ‘the hotelier to the stars.’s” The book also pays tribute to Gerhardt’s son, Ralph Gerhardt, who worked as a vice-president on the 105th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center and was one of 24 Canadians killed on Sept. 11, 2001. Speaking of 9/11, Gerhardt says, “It just changed everything. 9/11 brought everything to a standstill; air travel and the hotel industry as well.” For more information, click here.

U.S-India Alliance Creates Advaya Hospitality
A joint U.S-India alliance, led by former American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) chairman John Russell, has been formed. Advaya Hospitality is a partnership with the India-based Auromatrix Group and a team of U.S. and international lodging executives. Advaya initially plans to develop, acquire, franchise and operate full-service and select-service hotels in key cities such as New York, Miami, Atlanta and Phoenix in the U.S. and Chennai, Tuticorin, Kakinada, Vizag and Vellore in India. Later, expansion is planned for China, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Brazil. “We are increasingly becoming a transparent world, and there is demand for tremendous lifestyle products in economic centres around the globe,” Russell said at a New York press conference where he spoke about  how the new global company aims to bring the next generation of lifestyle hotels and related products to major cities worldwide. For more information, click here

Days Inn Opens Conversion Hotel in Strathmore, Alta.
A 102-room, four-storey conversion Days Inn & Suites has been opened by Realstar Hospitality in Strathmore, Alta. Operated by general manager Doug Sholter, it features free Daybreak Café breakfast, free high-speed Internet access, meeting facilities, a fitness room, guest laundry and a heated indoor pool with waterslide.


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