Tim Hortons exodus continues as three long-time executives depart, Marina Strauss

Mr. Fisher said the new CEO, Mr. Schwartz, is part of a new breed of young leaders in the food service industry. “He’s got a reputation for cutting the fat and running lean operations.”

The Globe and Mail
January 5, 2015

Tim Hortons exodus continues as three long-time executives depart
Marina Strauss


Three senior executives have left Tim Hortons since it was acquired by Burger King’s parent firm, 3G Capital. Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS

More senior executives at Tim Hortons Inc. have left the company as its new owner takes over following its $12.5-billion acquisition of the Canadian coffee and donut chain.

The departures of three long-time Tim Hortons executives after the merger last month is not surprising and probably the beginning of a trend of more head office staff leaving at the chain, industry observers predicted.

“Tim Hortons has a huge head office,” said Douglas Fisher of food service consultancy FHG International. “They’re going to cut that down significantly.”

The Brazilian private-equity firm which now owns the newly merged chain – renamed Restaurant Brands International Inc. – is known for cutting the fat from head office and did so when it bought Burger King several years ago, Mr. Fisher said.

The latest Tim Hortons departures came shortly after the company had named two of the executives to their positions at the new Restaurant Brands in mid-December.

Mike Meilleur, president of Tim Hortons U.S., and Scott Bonikowsky, head of communication and corporate affairs, left after being with Tim Hortons for about 20 and eight years, respectively, a company spokeswoman confirmed on Tuesday. As well, Roland Walton, former president and a Tim Hortons veteran since 1997, is no longer with the company, Alexandra Cygal confirmed.

Ms. Cygal, spokeswoman for Tim Hortons, said Mr. Meilleur has been replaced by David Blackmore, previously senior vice-president of operations excellence at the chain. Mr. Bonikowsky’s responsibilities have been split between her and another Tim Hortons employee.

Some of Mr. Walton’s responsibilities have been taken on by David Clanachan, who was recently named president of Tim Hortons Canada.

Mr. Bonikowsky said in an e-mail it was his decision to leave the company, but he did not elaborate.

“Tim Hortons is a special company and I have felt privileged to contribute to building the brand,” Mr. Bonikowsky said. “My decision was based on personal factors and I wish the team great future success.” This month he started a communications firm to deal with reputation and other corporate issues.

Brazilian private equity firm 3G Capital Management LLC, the new owner of Tim Hortons, had previously disclosed other executive changes at the chain. Former Burger King chief executive Daniel Schwartz is the merged company’s new chief executive. Former Burger King Asia Pacific president Elias Diaz Sese, a dozen-year veteran of the burger chain’s operations who has also led its expansion in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, will head up the Tim Hortons brand as its president.

The Spanish-educated Mr. Diaz Sese, who has law and business degrees and previously worked for French sporting goods retailer Decathlon, is moving from Singapore to Oakville, Ont., to take the Tim Hortons job, the company said last month.

Mr. Diaz Sese's experience heading up Burger King's expansion overseas fits in with Burger King's goal of global expansion for Tim Hortons. The company says he tripled Burger King's annual rate of restaurant growth in Asia.

Mr. Fisher said the new CEO, Mr. Schwartz, is part of a new breed of young leaders in the food service industry. “He’s got a reputation for cutting the fat and running lean operations.”

Marc Caira, former CEO of Tim Hortons, is now vice-chairman of the board of directors of the newly merged chain, He was awarded a $1 million bonus due to a substantially increased workload as a result of the merger deal and strong quarterly results that beat market expectations, according to filings. Cynthia Devine, the company's former chief financial officer, was awarded a C$500,000 bonus.

Tim Hortons said the rewards were within the range of market data for bonuses in similar circumstances. Last year, Caira's total compensation was $3.4 million, including a base salary of C$451,494.


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