| Saudi Arabia

Gong cha signs largest master franchise deal for Middle East launch

The bubble tea chain will debut in Saudi Arabia this year ahead of expanding to Bahrain and the UAE in 2025 and plans to open more than 300 outlets across the Middle East in partnership with Shahia Foods Group

Saud Abdullah Al Athel, Group CEO, Shahia Foods (left), and Paul Reynish, Global CEO, Gong cha (right) | Photo credit: Gong cha


Gong cha has signed the ‘largest master franchise agreement in its history’ with Saudi Arabia’s Shahia Foods Group to open stores hundreds of stores across the Middle East. 

Shahia Foods, which also operates more than 600 Dunkin’ outlets in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, will open its first Gong cha stores in Riyadh in the first half of 2024. Under the terms of the agreement, the foodservice group will launch the bubble tea brand in Bahrain and the UAE in 2025 as part of a longer-term goal to open at least 300 Gong cha outlets across the Middle East.  

In a press release Gong cha said its upcoming Saudi Arabian debut represents a ‘significant milestone’ as it seeks to scale from 2,100 sites to 10,000 globally by 2032. 

“We’re delighted to announce our landmark partnership with the Shahia Foods Group to bring Gong cha’s quality tea to the Middle East. With a strong portfolio of global brands, extensive locations across key markets, and long-standing relationships, we believe the Shahia Foods Group is the perfect partner to help fulfil our expansion ambitions in the Middle East,” said Paul Reynish, Global CEO, Gong cha. 

Founded in Taiwan in 1996, Gong cha opened its first international store in 2009 and now operates across 23 countries, including the UK, US, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan. 

“We’re delighted to bring the world’s best known bubble tea brand to the Middle East. Gong cha’s commitment to quality and differentiated menu will delight consumers’ taste buds in the Middle East and complement our existing retail portfolio for optimum growth,” said Saud Abdullah Al Athel, Group CEO, Shahia Foods. 

Gong cha said its launch in the Middle East comes amid growing consumer demand for unique food and beverage products, including bubble tea. Other bubble tea chains currently operating in Saudi Arabia include global brands Chatime, Tiger Sugar, Gotcha Bubble Tea and YaoYao Bubble Tea, as well as domestic brands Balon Bubbles and Bobaty. 

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