Tim Hortons opens in Pakistan, despite the country’s economic problems.
LAHORE: Pakistanis are waiting in line for hours to get coffee and pastries from Tim Hortons, a Canadian chain that opened its first store in the South Asian country this week, just as the country’s economic crisis got worse.
In less than a month, the Pakistani rupee has lost more than a quarter of its value against the US dollar, and the price of fuel has gone up by almost 20% as a result of the government’s implementation of fiscal measures that are needed to get funds from an IMF bailout.
Inflation jumped to 27% year-over-year in January, which was the highest rate in more than a decade, and the government only has enough foreign reserves to pay for just over three weeks of imports.
Even so, a lot of Pakistanis have been crowding into the cafe since it opened on Saturday in a nice Lahore mall.
Restaurant Brands International Inc. (RBI), which is based in Toronto, owns Tim Hortons. RBI also owns other fast food chains, like Burger King and Popeyes.
Ahmad Javed, a medical student who used to go to Tim Hortons when he lived in Canada and told Reuters, “Higher prices don’t really matter for the kind of people who come here.”
“In Pakistan, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the middle class is having a hard time.”
The online menu says that a small cup of brewed coffee costs 350 rupees ($1.3), while a large cup of flavoured coffee costs twice as much. The average minimum wage set by the government is 25,000 rupees ($94) a month.
Pakistan is still a growth market for fast-food companies. It has more than 230 million people and a $350 billion economy.
RBI said in a statement that Tim Hortons is going to open two more stores in Lahore. The franchise is run by the Pakistani company Blue Foods. Both companies wouldn’t say anything about how much money the store made in its first week.
For students like Pareeshay Khan, the fact that the brand is popular on social media is more important than how much the coffee costs. “I’m here to try the top social media trend, which is coffee. I don’t know how much it costs, and I don’t care.”