| US

Gong cha introduces direct franchise model to strengthen Americas expansion

The move marks the second phase of the bubble tea chain’s expansion strategy in the region with its first direct franchisees set to open stores in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Puerto Rico

Gong cha expects to open an additional 130 sites across the Americas in 2024 | Photo credit: Gong cha


Bubble tea chain Gong cha has launched a direct franchising programme in the Americas to accelerate outlet growth in the region. 

Gong cha debuted in the US in 2014 and has reached 225 stores across 20 US states under a master franchise model. 

Direct franchising foregoes the use of an intermediary and sees the franchisor retain control and licensing of the franchise. In a press release, Gong cha said launching a direct franchising programme will kickstart the second phase of its expansion strategy in the Americas and enable the business to enter new states for the first time, including Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada, Illinois and Tennessee.  

It will also enable experienced franchisees to oversee multi-store, multi-year development plans and build markets in parallel.   

Gong cha’s first direct franchise partnerships will see the brand expand to Puerto Rico and Las Vegas, Nevada. 

The Taiwanese bubble tea chain achieved 19% year-on-year outlet growth in the US last year, opening 90 new stores across the Americas, including more than 40 in the US. Gong cha expects to open an additional 130 sites in the region in 2024. 

“After many years of inquiries, we’re thrilled to be able to finally offer direct franchise relationships. Over the past two years, our team has built a robust franchise support system – making significant investments in technology, launching a brand marketing fund, and nearly doubling the size of our US team – in order to bolster a growing network of partners,” said Geoff Henry, President, Gong cha Americas. 

Gong cha will continue to pursue master franchise agreements for expansion across Latin America. In December 2023, the bubble tea chain announced plans to open its first store in Honduras in the first half of this year, before expanding to Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala. 

Founded in Taiwan in 2006, Gong cha currently operates more than 2,200 stores across 23 markets globally. In January 2024, the company 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

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