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Burger King, Popeyes, Tim Hortons company CEO lays out COVID-19 response

Restaurant Brands International CEO Jose Cil sent an information-filled letter to the system, media and investors to provide a look at the many levels the company is working on to get relief to Burger King, Popeyes and Tim Hortons' stakeholders in the current crisis.

Burger King, Popeyes, Tim Hortons company CEO lays out COVID-19 responseBurger King is among the three brands that Restaurant Brands International CEO Jose Cil said is receiving special benefits and other measures during the pandemic (Photo: iStock).

Restaurant Brands International CEO Jose Cil outlined everything from roving Tim Hortons coffee trucks in Canada, to employee emergency funds and bonuses around the globe, as ways the holding company for the Burger King, Popeyes and Tim Hortons brands is working to sustain the brands in the midst of the pandemic. The information came in the form of an open letter that Cil sent to all stakeholders, delineating the actions the company is taking.

Cil said that the company's primary interest has remained on the health, happiness and safety of its employees, franchisees and customers, including:

  • At Tim Hortons in Canada, the company and its franchisees have established a C$40 million ($28M US) employee support fund for employees not working due to issues related to COVID-19.
  • At Burger King and Popeyes in North America, the company's corporate-owned stores are providing paid sick leave for up to 14 days for employees diagnosed or told to isolate due to the virus. The company is also paying bonuses to all corporate restaurant team members in North America across the three brands, but the specific amount of the bonuses was not delineated. 

On the health and hygiene front, the company said it has enhanced its sanitation procedures system-wide, with implementation of comprehensive social distancing procedures for team members. RBI is also now deploying 15,000 infrared thermometers to all Burger King, Tim Hortons and Popeyes restaurants to monitor employee health. 

To reach home bound customers, Cil said home delivery has been expanded for Burger King and Popeyes across the U.S., while he said that in coming weeks, Tim Hortons will be rapidly scaling up its delivery coverage in Canada. 

"At Tim Hortons we are also introducing enhanced 'mobile pick up' functionality on our app, and along with Popeyes and Burger King, we will soon launch safe operational procedures for 'curbside takeout' or 'front door takeout,'" Cil said in his letter. "With this new feature, team members will walk orders out to guests who can't access our drive-thrus, including truck drivers and guests arriving on foot."

For franchisees in many global markets, the company is advancing cash payments and rebates to give them cash at hand, including $70 million available in North America now and continued investigation into other methods for cash advances. 

"For approximately 3,700 eligible locations where we have property control at Tim Hortons in Canada and Burger King in the U.S. and Canada, we have temporarily converted our rent structure from a combination of fixed plus variable rent to 100% variable rent, which provides relief in the face of declining sales," Cil said in the statement. "In addition, we have deferred rent payments for up to 45 days to provide tens of millions of dollars in much-needed working capital to our systems. We are also contacting all of our landlords in North America to seek further assistance that will be passed along to our restaurant owners as we receive it."

The company is also pausing franchisee obligations for restaurant builds, remodels and significant equipment deployments until Cil said they had more "visibility" on how the current crisis is going to play out. RBI has also created the Restaurant Owner Liquidity Support Teams across all three of our brands to work one-on-one with restaurant owners and provide guidance. And it has created teams to help expedite access to emergency stimulus programs in the U.S. and Canada.

Finally, it is putting some incentives for orders into all three brands including: 

  • Burger King in the United States: Two free King Jr. kids' meals with app purchase of any adult meal.
  • Tim Hortons in Canada: Coffee trucks deployed to give out free coffee and doughnuts to health care workers and first responders at hospitals, health care centers and COVID-19 test facilities. 
  • Popeyes: Mobile app users can get free delivery and donate to No Kid Hungry.

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