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Justin Bieber’s doughnut holes turned around the fortunes of a beloved Canadian coffee chain

February 15, 2022, 6:29 PM UTC

One Canadian icon saved another. It’s the tale of Justin Bieber and Tim Hortons.

Restaurant Brands International, parent company of the famous coffee-and-doughnut chain named after a former hockey great, reported that sales increased by 10.3% at its stores that have been open for more than a year in the fourth quarter of 2021. That compares with an 11% decline for the same quarter a year earlier. Revenue topped analysts’ expectations, and shares of the stock rose by more than 4% in morning trading. 

The magic ingredient was Timbiebs Timbits, a limited edition doughnut-hole promotion featuring three special flavors created by the pop star: chocolate white fudge, sour cream chocolate chip, and birthday cake waffle. They also sold merchandise to promote the collaboration. 

Speaking on an earnings call last Tuesday, Restaurant Brands CEO José Cil said, “I’m a Belieber.”

That promotion was “one of the more successful traffic-driving initiatives in recent memory and outperformed our internal expectations,” he added, reporting an “unprecedented” increase in social engagement and visits by younger customers. 

“You can expect to see more from this exciting partnership in the year ahead,” Cil said.

Burger King, also owned by Restaurant Brands International, has done well with its own celebrity collaborations. The fast food chain worked with Lil Huddy, Nelly, and Anitta to create Keep It Real Meals, entrées curated by the artists and sold under their “real” names, Chase Hudson, Cornell Haynes Jr., and Larissa Machado, respectively. 

Restaurant Brands International saw net sales rise by 14% to $1.55 billion in Q4, beating expectations of $1.5 billion. The company noted that higher prices aided in this growth, and that there are plans to increase prices again in 2022 as a hedge against growing inflation. 

The company also saw an increase in global digital sales, from $6 billion in 2020 to $10 billion in 2021, and now representing 30% of all sales. An increase in digital sales helped alleviate some of the pressures brought on by labor shortages, reduced hours, and closed dining rooms owing to COVID-19 restrictions.

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