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Wendy's breakfast coming to Canada as chain seeks growth

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 2: A banner announcing Now Serving Breakfast is shown outside a Wendy's restaurant on March 2, 2020 in New York City. Wendy's introduced its breakfast menu nationwide today, featuring items such as the Breakfast Baconator, the Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit and the Frosty-ccino.  (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)
Wendy's is launching breakfast in Canada. The company introduced a new breakfast menu in the U.S. in March 2020. (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

Wendy’s is getting into the breakfast game in Canada, launching a new morning menu as the company tries to increase sales, boost traffic and compete with the likes of McDonald’s and Tim Hortons.

The fast food chain announced Wednesday that it will launch breakfast at its 400 Canadian locations in the spring, and will unveil the menu next month.

“We took the time to really understand the success of the U.S. launch in 2020 and how we could do it in a Canadian way,” Abigail Pringle, Wendy's international president and chief development officer, said in an interview with Yahoo Finance Canada.

“So we went on a journey of talking with thousands of customers around the country about what would make breakfast both differentiated in the market, and be successful here… It’s been a couple-year journey to bring it here.”

While Wendy’s Canada hasn’t revealed an exact launch date or specific menu items, the company said its breakfast lineup will feature breakfast sandwiches, a morning “homage” to its popular Baconator burger and custom blended coffee.

Wendy’s launched its breakfast menu in the United States in March 2020, just before the pandemic struck and fast food chains saw traffic and sales stall. Despite the pandemic setback, the category has proven popular for Wendy’s, with sales surpassing US$1 billion nearly a year ago.

Wendy’s hopes to emulate that success in Canada, where breakfast remains one of the most popular categories – referred to in the quick service industry as “dayparts” – for fast-food chains. The breakfast daypart grew 14 per cent in Canada over the last year, according to data from NPD Crest.

A key part of the Canadian launch that Pringle says will be different from the U.S. is the focus on coffee. Wendy’s has worked with Mississauga-based coffee distributor Mother Parkers to create a custom blended coffee for Canadian customers.

“It’s a real example of where we took the time to be right for Canada and in the context of our competitive set as well,” Pringle said.

Wendy’s will have its competition cut out for it in the category, where it will face off against established chains such as Tim Hortons, McDonald’s and A&W that have offered breakfast for years. Tim Hortons, which has been undergoing a “back to basics” strategy focused in part on improving its breakfast offerings, saw morning daypart sales surpass pre-pandemic levels in its most recent quarter.

Wendy’s Canada is in the midst of an aggressive growth strategy. The company opened its 400th location in Canada in November and is undergoing a “big effort” to increase franchise recruitment and address potential growth opportunities with existing owners.

Pringle said the breakfast launch is part of that growth pursuit.

“We’re in a position of strength and looking at how to leverage the fixed costs and assets that we already have in our restaurant,” she said.

“Really, we’re one of the few restaurants out there that doesn’t serve breakfast… We think it’s going to be very profitable, and a great opportunity for our franchise owners.”

Alicja Siekierska is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow her on Twitter @alicjawithaj.

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