Layoffs begin at Tim Hortons HQ

Just six weeks after the controversial Burger King takeover, Tim Hortons started handing out pink slips at its longtime corporate headquarters in Oakville and at regional offices across Canada.

Employees dashed to their cars and had no comment Tuesday as they left the head office of the 50-year-old doughnut and coffee behemoth, which is now being run under the Restaurant Brands International umbrella with Burger King after the blockbuster $12.5-billion takeover was completed in December.

Tim Hortons refused to say how many staff will be axed — or even provide a general number — despite repeated attempts when contacted as terminations got underway. But recent media speculation is that hundreds of employees of the 2,000 employed outside its restaurants are being let go, which was originally feared when the fast food giants announced the merger last August.

Besides its Oakville headquarters, Tim Hortons has regional offices in Guelph, Ont., Kingston, Ont. along with British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec, and Nova Scotia, plus one regional office in the U.S.

A spokesperson replied that because Tim Hortons is still notifying affected employees, “we’re not in the position to confirm the number of people impacted, either leaving the company or with new opportunities (in the merged company).”

David Macdonald, senior economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, said: “This is not surprising to anyone in the business community. Everyone knows layoffs were very likely to happen after the takeover.”

The non-profit think tank had warned there would be widespread layoffs and severe cost-cutting, especially with Burger King’s owner 3G Capital in charge, so as to pay back off debt it took on to make the deal happen. The Brazil-based investment firm has a track record of paring staff and slashing costs to the bone. That’s what happened after it took over Burger King, Heinz and Anheuser-Busch InBev prior to the Tim Hortons acquisition.

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