Sharetea, a leading bubble tea business in Australia, is planning a major expansion of its chain of outlets.
Now 10 years old, Sharetea Australia has built a chain of almost 90 franchised stores employing more than 700 people, with plans to reach 110 outlets by the end of 2022.
The growth plans come as Australia emerges from Covid-19 restrictions and people return to their workplaces.
“The pandemic placed a lot of stress on our business as out outlets were closed during lockdowns and there were issues with supply,” says Sharetea CEO Anthony Mu.
“However, we have emerged from Covid in better shape and are keen to expand our footprint across Australia as more consumers enjoy bubble tea as an alternative to coffee.
The global bubble tea market is estimated to be worth over $4 billion, with Sharetea said to be the largest Australian-owned chain.
Sharetea uses ingredients from Taiwan where bubble tea was invented in the 1980s.
Recipes for bubble tea originate from various types of tea leaves and flavours of milk, with the most popular being tapioca pearls.
“We are developing new products and recipes to attract new demographics in what is one of the fastest growing beverage categories in the world,” says Mr Mu.
Like coffee, tea prices have risen in the last two years, along with freight, rent, utilities and labour costs. However Sharetea has been able to resist imposing any price increases on its franchise network.
“We have been able to maintain our network of loyal franchisees despite the pressures brought on them by Covid, with many of our partners planning to expand their number of outlets as economic and labour hire conditions continue to improve this year,” says Mr Mu.
“We are seeing very encouraging signs in the turnover of our stores, with an expansion in the number of flavours we are creating, as well as bubble tea products that our customers can make at home,” he says.