TORONTO – A Tim Hortons franchisee is seeking a class-action lawsuit alleging Restaurant Brands International is improperly using money from a national advertising fund.
Since RBI acquired Tim Hortons in 2014 it has used money in the fund in ways that were not used previously or permitted, according to a statement of claim filed in Ontario Superior Court on Monday.
Each franchisee contributes 3.5 per cent of their gross sales to the fund and since Dec. 14, 2014, the fund has collected nearly $700 million, according to the claim.
The lawsuit alleges RBI has funnelled the money to itself, the TDL Group Corp., and several individuals — including RBI CEO Daniel Schwartz — also listed as defendants. The allegations have not been proven in court.
RBI said in a statement that it vehemently disagrees with and denies all of the allegations. It said the company remains committed to working with restaurant owners to make the Tim Hortons brand strong.
The Great White North Franchisee Association — a group formed by disgruntled franchisees in an effort to raise their concerns — said in a statement that the claim was filed because RBI (TSX:QSR) failed to adequately respond to questions about the use of the fund.
Schwartz has previously said he’d prefer if the group relayed their concerns privately and recently met with some of the franchisees.