Tealive has expanded into downtown Ottawa, Canada, making this its first store in North America. According to Loob Holding's founder and CEO Bryan Loo (pictured), the team has been focused on expanding in Southeast Asia and was not particularly targeting North America until it was approached by 1TEACO, an established business group involved in running pastry and bakery businesses. 1TEACO is the master franchisee for Tealive in Canada and is owned by CEO Que Trang and COO Simon Huang.
“We’re convinced that our chosen local partner in Canada will be a good fit as they have over 20 years of experience in the food and beverage segment," he said. The partner was committed to opening 50 outlets in the next five years across Canada.
Loo explained that the planned expansion across Canada will offer the team an opportunity to learn more about the North American market up close so it can tap into the US market next. Canadian influencers including Eric Chan of Ottawa Nibbles, Melissa of Mels Hangry Table, Allie of YumYumYow, Marilou of 20ys and Anglea of Anglea Bites were present at the store opening.
Meanwhile, Loo told A+M that Trang and Huang approached the company about two year ago. Both found Tealive's menu innovative and attractive which they thought would satisfy customers over there.
"Our business model and store format also matched their plans. Our team found them a good fit as they have over 20 years of food and beverage experience and they already run a successful pastry and bakery chain in Canada. Plus, they displayed great enthusiasm for the Tealive brand," he added.
As a result of the overwhelming response for its first store, Tealive is already planning two more before the new year. In terms of investments, Loo said Loob as the brand owner will fully support 1TEACO as it rolls out the expansion programme. Hence, it is still in the early days to reveal actual budgets.
According to Loo, Trang and Huang have also travelled to Southeast Asia where they were exposed to Tealive. "They like our brand’s reach, our format being scalable with many store sizes and that we’re in petrol stations. They are impressed with our focus on the drive-through market as drive-throughs are a staple in the North American market," he said.
Loo added that its partners recognise Tealive's versatile business model and is sure this would be an ideal format for a Western market such as the US. “They are convinced that Tealive is a unique offering in the boba market in line with our brand promise of ‘Always More Than Tea’. Tealive has an extremely wide range of drinks in our portfolio and also our current extension into food through Tealive Eats," he added.
Tealive’s brand promise of “Always More Than Tea” can be seen in the wide range of speciality coffees, signature toasteas and artisanal food, The brand has also extended the menu into Mac & Cheese, fried snacks and offer value meals and combos macarons, pastries and cakes.
The bubble tea brand currently has 800 stores in Malaysia and is on track to hit its 1,000 target by 2024. Loo is bullish about the potential of the global bubble tea market and wants to position Loob to be prepared to ride the next wave.
“According to leading market research firm Facts and Factors, the Global bubble tea market size was valued at around US$2.1 billion in 2020 and is estimated to grow to about US$4.5 billion by 2026, at a compounded annual growth rate of 8.1% between 2021 and 2026,” he said.
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