Canadian fast food chain Tim Hortons is planning a major expansion in the UK, hoping to capitalise on increased demand for drive-through dining.
The move comes despite the recent collapse in sales at the chain due to the coronavirus crisis.
The firm told the Telegraph it hopes to open an outlet in “every major city and town” over the next two years.
The growth could create around 2,000 new jobs, it said.
Tim Hortons, which is known for its coffee and donuts, opened its first UK location in 2017 and now has 23 locations.
The brand is owned by fast food giant Restaurant Brands International (RBI), which also owns Burger King and Popeye’s Chicken. Together, the company has more than 27,000 restaurants globally, which it operates through a franchise model.
The firm has been pushing to expand that footprint, especially outside the US and Canada. In August, chief executive Jose Cil said the firm remained focused on that goal, despite the upheaval caused by the pandemic.
“We cannot predict exactly when the dust will settle, but we’re confident that we will be well positioned to capitalise on opportunities for growth as we emerge from the crisis and continue toward the 40,000 restaurant goal we talked about last year,” chief executive Jose Cil told investors.
Sales at RBI dropped more than 20% in the three months to July, as lockdown forced many locations to close or restrict their offerings.
At Tim Hortons, which has more than 4,900 locations globally, sales fell more than 30%.
Mr Gil said the firm expected to end 2020 with roughly the same number of restaurants as the year before, despite unusually high numbers of closures.
In June, Burger King’s UK boss warned it might have to close up to 10% of its restaurants.
Tim Horton’s had just 937 locations outside of Canada as of June, including 23 in the UK.
The first new UK location is planned for Milton Keynes, according to the Telegraph.