PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The Tim Hortons chain of coffee shops has closed 36 money-losing restaurants in New England and will shut down 18 kiosks in the region in the next few days, a company spokesman said Thursday.
The Oakville, Ontario-based company closed all its locations in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut, shutting the stores down Wednesday, the day it released its third quarter earnings report. It also closed two of its stores in the Portland, Maine, area, although more than two dozen other locations remain in Maine, now the only New England state where the company is operating.
Tim Hortons said it has lost $4.4 million this year the now-closed locations, and is focusing instead on other U.S. markets where it already operates, including Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia.
Spokesman David Morelli said stiff competition from similar businesses made it hard for the Canadian company to break into the region.
"It was just a highly saturated market of quick service restaurants," he said. "It was not just one competitor. There were several. This also allows us to reinvest and focus resources and money from those areas into our growing markets."
Tim Hortons moved into southeastern New England in 2004 when it paid nearly $42 million for 42 coffee shops belonging to the Rhode Island-based Bess Eaton chain of coffee shops. It previously closed about 15 of those shops in 2008.
Morelli said the company doesn't know how may people are losing their jobs because they were employed by local store operators. He said the company was working to find positions elsewhere in the company for the 11 affected people employed directly by Tim Hortons, and said the company also hopes to relocate some franchisees.
Sharon Doyle, a Tim Hortons employee who attended a meeting of laid off workers Thursday in Warwick, told Providence station WJAR-TV that she and her coworkers received no notice.
"We're out of a job and it's five weeks to Christmas, Thanksgiving," she told the station. "These people have families they have to support."
Tim Hortons is left with 567 locations in the United States, and plans to open 300 more stores by 2013, Morelli said. It has 3,100 locations in Canada.