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Chipotle brings its rewards program to Canada as it looks to build business there

The burrito chain currently has 28 Canadian locations and said there is much opportunity for growth in the country.
Photo: Shutterstock

Chipotle Mexican Grill is bringing its loyalty program to Canada, the next step in building its fledgling business there.

The burrito chain currently has 28 restaurants in Canada, with plans to open four more stores in British Columbia and Ontario this summer, for a total of eight to 10 new units there this year. Ten of the restaurants are in Toronto.

Since debuting in the U.S. in 2019, Chipotle’s rewards program has been a big success, drawing in some 28 million members who spend more and visit more than the fast casual’s average customer.

“We’re excited to engage with our Canadian guests in a brand new way with Chipotle Rewards,” CMO Chris Brandt said in a statement. “Our personalized loyalty program allows members to select how they redeem points, earn extras by participating in challenges, and achieve badges for their achievements.”

About a year ago, Newport Beach, Calif.-based Chipotle announced plans to speed up its growth in Canada. At the time, it hadn’t opened a new restaurant in the country since 2018. Last year, Chipotle partnered with Uber Eats to deliver in Canada and the chain launched a Canadian version of its app.

The Canadian Chipotle menu is the same as the one in the U.S.

“Ultimately, we believe we can open at least a few hundred restaurants in Canada, especially with their unit economics now approaching those of the U.S.,” CFO Jack Hartung told analysts last year. “We’ll continue to experiment with different location formats and restaurant designs throughout the country to gauge consumer preferences.”

Chipotle has previously said it sees space to open at least 7,000 restaurants in North America. It currently has just over 3,000 locations.

Last October, Chipotle opened its first Chipotlane in Canada, at a restaurant in Port Coquitlam, B.C. Early next year, the chain plans to open its first Chipotlane in the greater Toronto area.

“Chipotlanes are a key strategy for our future expansion to further drive access and convenience for our guests,” Anat Davidzon, managing director of Chipotle in Canada, said in an email interview with Restaurant Business.

It has been challenging to build the Canadian business, Davidzon said, but the chain has quickly found its footing there.

“Initially, our greatest challenge was getting our financial performance to align with our economic model,” Davidzon said. “Once we demonstrated this, we had to establish and build systems to maintain the brand’s established business practices and proven model for restaurant operations in Canada.”

 

 

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