The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is bullish on its growth in Malaysia, said Chief Executive Officer/President, Mel Elias.
He said although Asia was its fastest-growing market for its product chain, the US was still its biggest market and it planned to open about 200 stores in southern California within five years.
Southern California is our birthplace and it will be our fortress, he said.
“Currently, we have 50 stores in Malaysia and we plan to double our store count in four years,” he told Bernama in an e-mail interview.
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is based in California but owned by Singapore’s Sassoon family.
Recently, the family announced that three private equity firms – US-based private-equity firm Advent International, South Korea’s Mirae Asset Private Equity and Taiwan’s CDIB Capital – will take a take a “significant equity position” in the company.
He said since the Sassoon family bought over The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf business in 1998, the management has grown the retail network from 60 stores to about 1,000 today.
“As Asia’s middle class grows, we see rising affluence and growing demand for the premium lifestyle experience. The category of gourmet coffee is on fire; it is the fastest growing segment in the coffee market,” he said.
To position The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf to tap these opportunities, Elias said: “We started looking around for strategic partners who can provide not just long-term capital but also the expertise and contacts to add impetus to our expansion plans.”
On whether this equity investment was a prelude to a listing or a sale to a larger group, he answered: “We don’t have any specific roadmap on this.”
On whether with this investment, the chain would be looking at additional revenue streams, he said: “Yes, we are looking at channel development in the more mature markets.”
Touching on market share, he said: “The coffee and tea market is very fragmented, and so market share is not something we look at.”
He said 640 billion cups of coffee and 1.3 trillion cups of tea were consumed in the world annually.