Tim Hortons aim to keep pushing into U.S.

TORONTO, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Coffee and doughnut retailer Tim Hortons Inc THI.TOTHI.N plans to keep pushing further into the United States and into urban areas of Canada, the company's chief executive said on Tuesday.

Paul House said in a presentation at a consumer conference in New York that the Canadian-based restaurant chain still plans to have up to 500 stores in the United States this year to increase brand loyalty and recognition.

House said Tim Hortons will also focus its expansion efforts in Western Canada and Quebec, areas of its main market where it is currently underrepresented. Further movement into urban areas of Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal is also planned.

“We are emerging regionally as a player in the U.S.,” House said at the Cowen and Co. annual consumer conference. He added that Tim Hortons plans to build on existing markets and move into adjacent regions.

Tim Hortons, which has been working to build brand recognition in the United States, had 352 restaurants south of the border as of the end of September. The Oakville, Ontario-based chain already has more than 2,750 in Canada.

Named after Tim Horton, the National Hockey League player who co-founded the chain, the company sees more than 90 percent of its revenue from its Canadian operations.

“The business in Canada has achieved brand loyalty and recognition achieved by few others,” said House. “Forty percent of our customers visit us at least four times a week.”

Shares of Tim Hortons were down C$1.45, or 3.9 percent, at C$35.57 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday afternoon.

$1=$1.02 Canadian Reporting by Leah Schnurr; editing by Rob Wilson