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Bubble Tea Franchise Set to Expand Throughout New Zealand

04 Dec 2017 - New Zealanders have a growing thirst for the popular Asian drink "bubble tea," with more stores expanding around the country next year.

Bubble tea or boba tea is made with soft tapioca balls called pearls and originated in Taiwan in the 1980.

The drink has become popular around the world with global sales of tapioca pearls growing at 4 per cent a year.

Bubble tea sales in New Zealand are growing around 20 per cent a year, according to Marcus Teh, New Zealand manager of Gong Cha, an international chain of bubble teahouses.

Auckland's large Asian student population initially drove its popularity, he said, but this year around 30 per cent of customers were Kiwis.

"Marketing plays a part but the bubble tea culture and drinks are slowly being loved by Kiwis," Teh said.

"We already know our brand is loved by Asians so we are trying to attract more New Zealanders."

Retail licensing expert Katrina Hammon said bubble tea bars were the new juice bars.

"It's new, different and on trend globally. McDonald's Germany even added bubble tea to the menu in 2012, so New Zealand is well behind this trend," she said.

One of the pull factors of tea was the experience, she said.

"The Chatime Tea brand [another chain of teahouses] has an unique fit out, consumers can see the product being made and add in pearls. There are also healthy options like sugar free options, chia seeds, aloe vera."

Gong Cha and Chatime each have more than 1000 stores worldwide and three stores in Auckland.

A fourth Gong Cha is set to open at Sylvia Park in November.

Teh said potential franchisees had been in contact asking him to open stores in the South Island. He plans on opening three more stores next year, including in Wellington and Christchurch.

Gong Cha will hire 20 staff in addition to the team of 30 already working for the company.

The company was recently voted the most popular food and beverage brand in Singapore, and was also named the most popular tea brand in Korea.



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