Bryan Loo, CEO of Loob Holdings.

How this tea brand plans to build the Starbucks of boba

Modernising the tea-drinking market is one of the top challenges, CEO Bryan Loo said.

From one store in 2010 to more than 900 stores across Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Brunei, the Philippines, Cambodia, Mauritius, and Canada, Loob Holdings, the parent company of bubble tea brand Tealive is taking on the world’s boba market through modernising how consumers drink tea.

In an interview at the QSR Media Asia Deliverect Conference & Awards 2023 Loob Holdings CEO Bryan Loo said one of their key targets is to modernise tea drinking, especially in Malaysia.

According to Bryan, their plan is to have their brand be associated with something akin to that of Starbucks but for tea.

“A decade ago, when you want to drink tea, are roadside stalls or what we called ‘mamak stalls’. These roadside tea stalls were unorganised and didn’t even have a brand. So from there we actually transform the culture into a place where people can have a cosy place to sit down like Starbucks and have a great selection of tea drinks or tea-inspired drinks,” Bryan said.

Bryan said currently the coffee space is dominated by plenty of international brands but there isn't one for tea.

Most bubble tea brands offer only a drink selection but because Bryan wanted Tealive to be ‘more than just tea’, they are also offering various food items that go well with bubble tea.

“We want to build a tea brand that is more than tea. So we have multiple drink categories like smoothies, chocolate drinks, and coffee. We also have different snackable items like our mac and cheese, which is our best-seller, and Korean egg drop sandwiches,” Bryan said.

Currently, Loob Holdings, which has three brands, is growing at a rate of 200 to 250 stores per year which are all 100% owned by the group. By the end of 2023, Bryan said they hope to grow to more than 1,000 stores.

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