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Gong cha sees potential for 500 stores in ‘saturated’ UK coffee shop market

Bubble tea could become the daily beverage of choice in the UK according to Gong cha Global CEO Paul Reynish, who says consumers are seeking ‘change and variety’

A Gong cha store in Covent Garden, London | Photo credit: Gong cha


Gong cha Global CEO Paul Reynish has said that UK is ‘ripe for franchising’ and has set an ambitious goal of opening 500 stores in the country. 

The Taiwanese bubble tea chain, which debuted in the UK in 2019 and is headquartered in London, currently operates 13 UK stores and expects to open eight further sites across the country by the end of 2023. 

Speaking to Sky News, Reynish said the UK coffee market is ‘very saturated’ and consumers are increasingly seeking ‘change and variety’.  

“What we’re moving towards is the daily ritual – coffee has done that and we’re breaking through with tea. We have different kinds of models around the world, but we think the UK is ripe for franchising. It’s a really popular vehicle for investment and we are working with some really great partners to roll out the brand. We have a partner already who has 13 stores, and they’re going to grow with us, but there’s more opportunity,” he said. 

Founded in Taiwan in 1996, Gong cha currently operates 2,000 stores across 22 countries, including Australia, Canada, the US, Cambodia, South Korea, Japan and Indonesia. 

The bubble tea chain said it is seeking to open a new store around the world every day on average in 2023. Gong cha opened 245 net new stores last year and achieved revenue growth of 25%, Reynish added. 

Gong cha, which boosted its senior leadership team in March 2023 to drive its ‘aggressive’ international growth plans, is slated to debut in France and the Netherlands within the next few months, before entering the Middle East and Thailand before the end of the year. 

The Taiwanese bubble tea chain is also forecasting it will reach 500 outlets in the US by 2025. 

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