Infused Success
    Category: Forbes Life By : Yessar Rosendar Read : 1265 Date : Friday, February 19, 2016 - 07:50:17

    Courtesy of TWG Tea

    Frenchman Taha Bouqdib, 46, always starts his day with a cup of tea. And why not? He is one of the founders of TWG Tea, a global tea retailer found in 42 countries. His life is all about tea. He likes to taste new blends at home that have not yet been released to his customers, and keeps various ingredients in his house that go into tea blends. He has a private lab set up in his office for blending teas. When he travels, he carries tea samples in his suitcase. “Our success goes in parallel with our passion, this is just the beginning, we are arriving at a level where we can grow faster in the next five years to arrive to another level of presence worldwide,” Taha says.

    Taha is always experimenting with new ideas for tea, some of his inspirations come from his travels. He can experiment with a blend even when he just got back from an exhausting trip to a tea plantation overseas. The company’s success is based on a combination of retail with wholesale sales.

    The retail outlets, called tea salon and boutiques, are luxuriously designed and located in high-end locations. It offers the largest tea collection in the world with well over 800 different single-estate and tea blends from tea-producing countries, including Indonesia.

    Its salons also feature traditional treats served with tea, such as macaroons, as well tea-infused pastries. The concept has proven resilient even when there is an economic downturn, says Taha. “We are an affordable luxury, you can spend $10 and have a unique experience,” Taha says. It also has a wholesale channels that distributes its products to airlines, hotels, and restaurants, that accounts for 40% of the company’s revenue.

    TWG Tea, which stands for The Wellbeing Group, was founded in the economic downturn of 2008 by Taha, his wife Maranda Barnes and other partners. Then in 2011 Singapore-based OSIM International Ltd took a small stake then later became majority shareholder of TWG Tea. It now has 51 outlets all around the world, with the brand entering the Indonesia market with local partner, PT Aroma Graha Perkasa, in 2013. There are two tea salons in upscale shopping centers in Jakarta, with the products also available in five-star hotels and fine dining restaurants. The product distribution has reached major cities such as Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, Yogyakarta, and Makassar and to the islands of Bali, Lombok and Sumatra.

    One major milestone was in 2014 when the brand finally penetrated the birthplace of tea, China, with the opening of a salon in the Grand Gateway Shanghai. ”We faced a lot of challenges but they make us stronger, to succeed in sharing the spirit of TWG Tea in the country where tea was born,” Taha says. After China, Taha also aims to expand to more countries including Latin America such as Mexico and Argentina, which provide fresh issues. “The challenge is not just the capital but also the effort to understand the market,” Taha says.