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Half of Tim Hortons franchisees in Canada join unsanctioned group

Last Updated Oct 20, 2017 at 7:20 pm EST

TORONTO – Less than a year after it was created, a group looking to raise Tim Hortons franchisees’ concerns over the chain’s management has recruited half of all of Tim Hortons Canadian franchisees into its ranks.

The Great White North Franchisee Association president David Hughes said in a letter sent to all franchisees that half of the chain’s franchisees have shown they support the significant issues the group publicizes.

The association incorporated in March to raise franchisee concerns, including the use of advertising funds and cost-cutting measures that it says impact quality.

Hughes said the GWNFA has decided to defer fee payments over a six-month period to give struggling store owners the chance to join, noting that many do so anonymously.

The president encouraged franchisees to join the growing group, and said the association hopes to hold elections for a new board of directors in January 2018.

The GWNFA and parent company Restaurant Brands International (TSX:QSR) have been at odds since its formation, and have initiated legal actions against each other.

The GWNFA filed a $500-million lawsuit in June alleging RBI improperly used money from a national advertising fund. The allegations have not been proven in court and RBI has said it vehemently disagrees with and denies the allegations.

In September, RBI subsidiary TDL Group Corp. served default notices to the association’s board members, including Hughes. The company accused them of providing confidential information to Tim Hortons former CEO Don Schroeder, who then allegedly gave it to a Canadian newspaper. Schroeder and the GWNFA have denied these claims.

The association then filed a lawsuit alleging RBI, its subsidiary and several executives continually subvert their right to associate. None of the claims have been proven in court and Tim Hortons has called the lawsuit unfounded.

Hughes told franchisees in the letter that the association’s efforts have helped bring about significant changes.

“But we still have many issues still to tackle in order to bring profitability and sustainability to each of you.”