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Singapore’s Flash Coffee plans lightning expansion across Asia

After securing $15m investment, the digital-focused coffee chain plans to open 10 stores a week to establish 300 new locations across Asia in 2021

A Flash Coffee store in Singapore | Photo credit: Flash Coffee 



Singapore-based Flash Coffee has announced plans to rapidly expand across Asia after securing $15m investment from investors including DX Ventures, Global Founders Capital, and Conny & Co. In a press release, the coffee chain said it intended to debut in Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam in 2021.
 
First launching in January 2020, Flash Coffee currently operates 50 locations across Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia. Despite opening amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the company reports the majority of its stores are profitable.

Flash Coffee says it is currently opening three new outlets per week and plans to increase the rate to 10 stores per week in order to achieve its target of 300 additional stores across the Asia by end of 2021.

“Our dream is to have a Flash Coffee every 500 metres in all major Asian cities,” said Flash Coffee CEO David Brunier. “We will also build a regional HQ in Singapore and expand our regional tech hub in Jakarta to 50 people to support our vision of fully leveraging technology to improve customer experience, proactively drive growth and significantly increase operational efficiency.”

The value-focused coffee chain deploys a similar ‘new retail’ model popularised by China’s Luckin Coffee. Customers can order drinks for pick-up via an app and online, with the brand stating its intention to ‘digitise today’s offline-dominated coffee industry’. Like Luckin Coffee, Flash Coffee is also seeking to catalyse growing demand for premium coffee and aspirational hospitality concepts among Asia’s growing young middle-income demographic.
 
There is undoubtedly vast untapped potential for domestic and international coffee chains alike across East Asia. World Coffee Portal data shows the region’s branded coffee chain market grew 5.1% in 2020 to exceed 74,500 outlets, with 13 out of 17 markets achieving outlet growth during the period.
 
China is, however, curiously absent from Flash Coffee’s intended growth markets. East Asia’s second largest branded coffee shop market after South Korea grew 2.1% to exceed 21,400 outlets in 2020, with consumers already highly familiar with app-based transactions, pick-up and beverage delivery. 86% of Chinese consumers surveyed by World Coffee Portal in 2020 indicated they have previously ordered coffee for delivery, with more than half doing so 2-3 times per week.

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