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A&W's Canadian Strategy

We’re keen to cover international franchise matters here at Franchise Direct. We’re an international organization with portals based in seven countries. While our international blog discussions usually take in matters pertaining to developing economies like China and India, one of biggest franchise networks in the world as at our doorstep, just to the north.


Canada has clearly embraced franchising, as our Franchise Direct Canada portal proves. The country – with all of its cultural and economic similarities to the US – provides a fascinating litmus test for franchises looking to expand and enliven their brand. A&W are a franchise with a certain QSR niche, tied in with their delicious root beer. You might not know that they’re a hugely popular on international level as well, and have been ranked #44 in our latest Top 100 Global Franchises. They’re so confident about the franchise in Canada that they’re taking on McDonald’s in big Canadian cities.


But it’s not just run-of-the-mill fast food units that A&W is opening. They’re targeting a different, more urbane - might we say more Canadian? - sensibility. As the Toronto Globe and Mail reports:

Aiming to reignite a decades-old brand name, A&W is rapidly expanding in dense urban centres, opening a quartet of outlets on its home turf of Vancouver, plus locations in Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. The restaurants have modernized the chain’s signature orange decor, playing Arcade Fire on the sound system and offering free wi-fi along with the traditional burgers and onion rings.


It is worth noting that A&W Canada is owned by group separate from its US affiliates, who are owned by YUM! Brands. Regardless, A&W senses a big shift towards urban living in Canada, and though they’re an old favorite of baby boomers, they’re now openly courting this younger, city-based generation.


“Canadians are going to see a significant shift in the next two decades, in terms of the way they work,” said Paul Hollands, A&W CEO told the paper. “There’ll be a much greater proportion of people living and working in urban cores.”


We know people will search them out because of their root beer. For A&W, though, it’s simply a question of getting closer to a new market.

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