SKOWHEGAN — The sign came down Monday, the doors were locked, the lights turned off and the Tim Hortons coffee shop and restaurant on Madison Avenue was closed.
The closing of the Canada-based eatery is a single restaurant closing and not an indication of Hortons’ performance in Maine or any of the company’s other U.S. markets, company spokeswoman Brynn Burton said Tuesday.
“Restaurant openings and closings are part of the way we manage our business,” Burton said. “There’s really no particular reason for the closure of this restaurant.”
Another Tim Hortons, which also was a franchise of Cold Stone Creamery, closed in Portland the weekend of Nov. 16, leaving 27 company shops remaining in Maine, including two in South Portland, one in Waterville and others in Augusta, the Lewiston-Auburn area, Newport and Bangor.
Burton said company officials evaluate a number of factors in assessing a shop’s value, including market demand and competition for coffee, breakfast food, soups, sandwiches, real estate prices and expansion plans in other areas of the country.
“What comes with growth, also comes with closings,” she said. “There may be additional restaurants that close as we wrap up 2013 in Maine and other U.S. markets. In all, our Maine closures have only been a few.”
The Tim Hortons in Skowhegan is on U.S. Route 201, the main highway linking Canada with popular summer destinations in southern Maine.
Burton said the closing of the Skowhegan location, which opened in a former Wendy’s fast-food restaurant in 2006, is not connected to a series of closings in the Northeast in 2010, when 36 outlets were closed in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maine, including two in Portland. Tim Hortons said at the time it had lost $4.4 million that year on those locations and was focusing instead on markets elsewhere in the Northeast and the Midwest, the Associated Press reported in November 2010.
At the time, there were 567 locations in the United States. There now are 817 Tim Hortons restaurants in the U.S.
Burton said the company operates 3,500 restaurants in Canada, up from 3,100 locations in 2010, and 33 more in the Middle East, for a total of 4,350 worldwide. Total annual sales for Tim Hortons locations worldwide top $2.3 billion, Burton said.
Tim Hortons moved into southeastern New England in 2004 when it paid nearly $42 million for 42 coffee shops belonging to the Rhode Island-based Bess Eaton chain of coffee shops, according to the 2010 Associated Press report.
The Skowhegan coffee shop opened in 2006, as did the one in Waterville.
Stephanie Breton, manager of the Tim Hortons in Waterville, said that location is up and running and doing well, but she wouldn’t comment further.
Burton said the Cold Stone Creamery in some Tim Hortons restaurant locations, including Waterville, is a separate company, specializing in ice cream and ice cream novelties.
Tim Hortons is a franchisee of Cold Stone Creamery, she said.
Tim Hortons is a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange and is no longer affiliated with the Wendy’s International Inc. chain of restaurants, with whom it had merged in 1995.
A Tim Hortons’ spokesman in 2010 said stiff competition from similar businesses made it hard for the Canadian company to break into the region.
Dunkin’ Donuts, for example, lists on its website 25 locations within a 30-mile radius of Waterville.
Burton said closing a restaurant usually involves laying off about 25 full- and part-time employees. She said all of the Skowhegan employees were notified of the closing in advance and were offered assistance finding other jobs in the area.
“We are pleased with the performance of our Maine restaurants,” Burton said. “These particular closings are no indication of our restaurants’ performance across Maine or even the U.S. as a whole. ”