Founder faults 'fresh' tactic

"I am the official spokesperson and until I confirm or deny anything it simply doesn't exist," she told CanWest News Service on Tuesday. "If someone else says something, that's up to them. We don't want to discuss this through the media." Wednesday, after learning of Joyce's comments, Bill Moir, the executive vice-president of marketing, said the company wasn't trying to keep secrets from its customers, just from the competition. Joyce said regardless, the customers deserve to know what's happening.

The Vancouver Sun
October 23, 2003

Founder faults 'fresh' tactic
Tim Hortons originator disappointed in chain's move to frozen goods
Deborah Tetley

CALGARY — Nearly 40 years ago, Ron Joyce opened a single doughnut and coffee shop in Hamilton, Ont., and watched it evolve into a Canadian icon called Tim Hortons, recognized the world over for its commitment to community, freshness and the quality of its product.

Today, the Calgary co-founder is selling off his remaining two million shares to parent company Wendy's International, is disappointed in the chain's new philosophy on what Always Fresh means, and is blasting senior management for not being "frank and open" with customers.

Joyce, who sold the company to Wendy's in 1995 for $620 million, confirmed what consumers have been saying for several months and officials at head office would not — that the doughnuts are being fried in a factory in Brantford, Ont., then packaged, frozen and shipped to regional warehouses across the country. Once in store the already "95 per cent cooked" product is baked in an oven and served.

"I've tried them and they're certainly not the same as the other product," he said Wednesday.

In the wake of consumer backlash over Tim Hortons' new frozen doughnuts, the 72-year-old said he is saddened to hear that some consumers aren't happy and are threatening to boycott.

"Of course it bothers me. This is not a philosophy that I would have embraced if I still owned the company. However, whether or not I agree with the philosophy is irrelevant."

Joyce, who sold the company to Wendy's in 1995 for $620 million, reached a deal last year to sell his remaining block of shares back to Wendy's by January 2004, as part of estate planning.

He has been gradually selling off his holdings under the deal, said to be worth $185 million US, or about $297 million Cdn.

Until Wednesday, Patti Jameson, vice-president of corporate communications for Tim Hortons, would only say the company is conducting tests.

"I am the official spokesperson and until I confirm or deny anything it simply doesn't exist," she told CanWest News Service on Tuesday. "If someone else says something, that's up to them. We don't want to discuss this through the media."

Wednesday, after learning of Joyce's comments, Bill Moir, the executive vice-president of marketing, said the company wasn't trying to keep secrets from its customers, just from the competition.

Joyce said regardless, the customers deserve to know what's happening.

"I'm disappointed in senior management, truly disappointed," he said. "They should have come out right of the closet and said: 'We are going into a new method of producing our product and we think they're going to be better and they're going to be fresher.' "

In some ways, he regrets selling the chain, which he took control of when his business partner in the company, NHL star Tim Horton, died in a car accident in 1974.

Joyce said about 30 years ago he researched a frozen doughnut and considered buying into the idea as a means to eventually save money for the company, reduce waste and still deliver a tasty sweet.

In the end, though, his Always Fresh motto was the only message he heard.

"I thought there's one thing we can offer our consumer and that's a fresh, fresh product, so I decided not to go that way," he said, adding that he is not divesting his stock as a result of the current consumer backlash, rather as part of his estate planning.

The Calgary Herald

© Copyright 2003 Vancouver Sun


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