Tealive stays afloat amid pandemic

To date, Tealive still owns more corporate stores than franchise stores

by HARIZAH KAMEL / pic credit: Tealive

MANY bubble tea operators have been forced to end their businesses due to the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO).

At the once bustling Section 15 of Subang Jaya, also known as Boba Street, several bubble tea shops have been put up for sale or rent.

However, Loob Holding Sdn Bhd, the owner and operator of popular lifestyle tea brand Tealive said its business is persisting despite facing inevitable reversals.

Founder and CEO Bryan Loo did not think that consumers have gotten over the bubble tea trend, but that the impact of the MCO has been too severe for most businesses to bear.

“Unfortunately, in recent months, a lot of bubble tea players got eliminated during the MCO period. But their focus was on franchising rather than operating their own stores, which is different from Tealive.

“The reason we are not experiencing the same fate is because we are not exactly here to follow or create trends. We are here to cultivate modern tea drinking within the Malaysian community,” he noted.

To date, Tealive still owns more corporate stores than franchise stores. According to Loo, the company believes in nurturing the brand to bring tea culture closer to customers from urban, suburban to rural areas.

When asked if the reinstated Conditional MCO has been affecting bubble tea sales, Loo said Tealive has been luckier than other retail brands in this unprecedented time.

“Our businesses are still doing relatively well, thanks to our huge spike in delivery orders and growth in suburban and rural stores.

“All in all, we are still on track to expand 100 outlets in this financial year and among the 100 stores, there are five upcoming additional Tealive drive-through counters in the pipeline, too,” he told The Malaysian Reserve.

As digital platforms have been the solution for businesses to survive, Loo said the company had launched many out-of-the-box and exciting innovations during this Covid-19 period.

Some of the launches include bubble tea DIY kits, Walls x Tealive ice cream, the world’s first strawless bubble tea cup, Mamee x Tealive bubble tea instant noodle, and pandu masuk contactless ordering.

Loo also pointed out that Loob has been initiating a series of virtual brands to capitalise on the delivery trends like Bask Bear Coffee, Just Pasta and Tako Hangat, adding that all these key initiatives came out to be a huge pivot and successes for the business.

As for the fate of the bubble tea market, Loo remained optimistic and did not see the current situation as its end.

“The bubble tea trend is a global phenomenon and is still rising in parts of the world. For example in Singapore, they have gone crazy with bubble tea stores just a day before their lockdown happened.

“The trend is all about creating the modern tea drinking culture which is totally in line with our brand mission,” Loo said.