Nutella pockets, Halloween whopper help drive Tim Hortons, Burger King profits

TORONTO – Nutella pockets, chicken fries and other new products at Tim Hortons and Burger King helped the restaurant chains’ parent company, Restaurant Brands International, post a profit its first year after the two companies merged.

For the full year, RBI (TSX:QSP) had US$4 billion of total revenue, including about US$1 billion in the fourth quarter, according to the company’s financial results for the quarter and 12 months ended Dec. 31.

Net income was $103.9 million, including $51.7 million or 25 cents per share in the last quarter.

“On the innovation front, we were pleased with a lot of the new products that we launched this year that resonated quite well with our guests,” said Daniel Schwartz, RBI’s chief executive officer.

Demand remained strong for dark roast coffee blend, which Tim Hortons introduced in 2014, he said. New products launched this past quarter like Nutella pockets, the creamy chocolate chill, as well as grilled breakfast and lunch wraps helped drive profits.

Burger King’s success also hinged on new menu items such as chicken fries and last year’s specialty Halloween burger — a classic Whopper served on a black bun. Promotions like Burger King’s two for $5 also helped the company’s profits.

Both restaurants will continue to introduce new food items, said Schwartz.

Most recently, Burger King announced it will start serving two types of hot dogs at its American restaurants starting next Tuesday.

The grilled dogs will only be available south of the border “for now,” Schwartz said, but could be introduced in Canada’s Burger King locations depending on how well the American launch goes.

RBI remains committed to growing its restaurant count in 2016. Last year, Tim Hortons added a net 155 restaurants, while Burger King added 631 new locations.

While Tim Hortons closed 27 under-performing restaurants in New York and Maine, said chief financial officer Joshua Kobza, the company hopes those moves will allow it to focus its resources on markets where it sees the greatest potential for growth.

Tim Hortons will expand in Indiana, the company announced the same day as it reported its earnings. Tim Hortons will form an exclusive partnership with Luke Family Brands in Indianapolis and Lafayette. The coffee chain has similar agreements in Cincinnati and Columbus.

“What we probably view as the most exciting growth opportunity, you know, around the world for Tim Hortons is growing the brand in the U.S.,” said Kobza.

“We’ve made that probably one of our biggest areas of focus over the past year.”

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