Singapore has no lack of bubble tea stores, some more well-known and others a little harder to find.
Among them is one particular brand, founded by actress Vivian Lai, known as Teabrary.
Two Outlets Closed Down
The 45-year-old actress first set up Teabrary in September 2019.
At its peak, the brand had three outlets in Singapore — Fook Hai building, Esplanade Xchange, and Holland Village’s Taste Gourmet Market.
Unfortunately, two of its three outlets have since closed their doors due to the pandemic.
After its latest closure at Esplanade Xchange, the bubble tea brand is now left with its original outlet at Fook Hai building.
Opening More Outlets
Despite the bleak business outlook, Lai said she is currently looking for opportunities to expand Teabrary, including looking for new locations to open more outlets.
In the meantime, the company is focusing on the R&D of a new range of products, which will be “launching soon”.
During the pandemic, Teabrary closed two of its outlet so that the brand could focus on deliveries and e-commerce, according to Lai.
However, she revealed that the six-figure sum she invested has already been recouped.
Teabrary also has outlets in China, Cambodia, and Myanmar, although Lai doesn’t oversee them directly. Instead, a partner company helps to co-manage it.
Small Team with Good Chemistry
Of course, running a local brand takes a whole village but Lai does it with just a small team.
In her role as a founder, she actively participates in much of the process, from marketing to quality control.
In the past couple of years, she has also built up her own team, which has over 10 people now.
While it’s not big, Lai says there’s good chemistry between coworkers now, which enables things to run smoothly.
Collaboration with Dilmah
For all of its losses, Teabrary has managed to score a collaboration with Dilmah — a tea brand that is a familiar sight on supermarket shelves.
Working together, both brands have come up with bottled ice tea in six flavours.
These can be found at FairPrice, 7-Eleven, Caltex Star Marts, and online platforms like Redmart, Redmart, and Shopee Mall.
Working with Dilmah is a big step forward for Teabrary, which Lai described as “a brand that needs no introduction”.
Lai also has plans to set up a cafe specialising in tea-themed food, such as tea pasta, but did not reveal when that will happen.
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