Manila, Chatime, a Taiwanese bubble tea franchise, made a splash in the Philippines this week when it opened its 100th store in Davao, the most populous city in the country outside Metro Manila.
The brand produces a slew of tea beverages, including its signature pearl milk tea. The brand also offers a variety of drinks such as juices, smoothies and coffee.
The franchise, founded in Taiwan in 2005, now has more than 2,500 outlets in 38 countries worldwide, including the United States, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia.
Henry Yao-hui Wang, chairman of La Kaffa International Co. that owns Chatime, said earlier this week that the Philippines is the third overseas market after Indonesia and Australia to have 100 Chatime stores in the country.
Wang said Southeast Asia is Chatime's largest market for growth and that Asia currently accounts for 56 percent of the company's revenues, followed by 16 percent in the Americas, 10 percent for Australia and 4.5 percent in Europe.
In recent years, bubble tea has proven to be a huge hit among consumers in the Philippines, the company said.
Christopher Cua, who helped bring the brand into the Philippines in 2011 and is now marketing and finance director of Chatime Philippines, said he saw the huge potential in the local milk tea market early on.
The signature "Chatime milk tea" is still the best-selling drink, which alone accounts for 40 percent of total sales, Cua said.
According to Chatime Philippines, local consumers used to prefer coffee, but in recent years, milk tea has quickly become the mainstream in terms of popularity among local consumers.
For an average white-collar worker, lunch costs around 100 pesos, while a cup of milk tea can be had for 90 pesos, which is "not too expensive," according to 25-year old office employee Jem.
Because milk tea is so popular, even Starbucks has started introducing this kind of beverage, he added.
With the opening of its 100th store, Chatime is not through with its expansion plans, Cua said, adding that he hopes to expand to 150 stores by year-end.
According to Chatime Philippines, it plans to have 200 branches by 2020.
With Indonesia now having more than 300 Chatime stores, the Philippines 100, Malaysia 50 and Cambodia 20, Wang said, the company aims to further expand into other Southeast Asian countries later this year, notably Thailand and Vietnam.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel