Tea Expansion
    Category: Indonesia 50 Richest By : Sonya Angraini Read : 76748 Date : Monday, December 07, 2015 - 07:28:07

    Ahmad Zamroni / Forbes Indonesia

    Indonesia’s big population and love of tea are two big reasons why Tan Passakornnatee, owner and chief executive of Thai-based green tea producer Ichitan group, chose Indonesia as the first country to expand his business overseas. “The market in Indonesia is very promising,” says Tan, who prefers to be called as Mr. Ichitan—a marketing scheme to spread his brand—during a visit to Jakarta. Why Indonesia? Simple—the market for ready-to-drink tea in Indonesia is around Rp 29 trillion. “When they have money, people will consume tea, and they want something better,” explains Tan, ranked No. 38 in the Thailand’s 50 richest list this year, with an estimated net worth of $640 million.

    To market its products, Ichitan joined forces with billionaire Djoko Susanto, the founder of the Alfamart retail chain, and Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp. To do so, Mitsubishi formed a company with retailer PT Sigmantara Alfindo, owned by Djoko, called PT Atri Pasifik. Then Atri Pasifik in turn entered into a 50/50 joint venture with Ichitan called PT Ichi Tan Indonesia, in 2014. Ichi Tan Indonesia started with an initial capital of Rp 400 billion.

    Tan feels a connection with Djoko since both of them started their businesses with nothing. He also feels working with Japanese investors will provide benefits, especially with a company as big as Mitsubishi. Tan notes that each company will bring their own expertise, such as marketing from the Ichitan group, distribution from Sigmantara and production from Mitsubishi.

    Tan loves publicity. He promotes himself as the spokesperson for the brand, and Tan has personally appeared in several commercials shown on Indonesian TV to promote Ichitan. One shows him piloting a cargo ship full of Ichitan across a stormy sea for delivery in Indonesia. Another shows him speaking Bahasa Indonesia and then riding a banana boat through the surf with young girls while drinking the tea, and in yet another he goes down a water slide, fully dressed and wearing his cap, to emerge at the bottom standing waist-deep in the water completely drenched and drinking a bottle of his tea. He is also active on social media, with his Facebook page Tanichitan having almost 12 million followers.