Unilever eyes launch of branded tea shops

Unilever could be about to launch a chain of branded tea shops to drive growth of its tea brands.

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The global fmcg firm is hoping to “transform” the global out of home tea market and is preparing to launch a “new concept” for cafes serving tea that could see the launch of a chain of branded cafes, according to a job spec for a global manager to lead the operation.

It owns Lipton, which it claims is the world’s best known tea brand, PG Tips, Lan-Choo and Irish tea brand Lyons.

Unilever has form in branded cafe operations and has previously launched a chain of Bru World Cafe coffee shops in India under its instant coffee brand Bru.

Unilever cites the “Starbucks and Nespresso effect” for changing perceptions of coffee in terms of value, range and quality, over the past 20 years. It now wants to mirror this in the tea market by creating “the definitive tea experience”.

Nespresso operates a chain of branded coffee “boutiques” selling its espresso drinks in the UK, Europe and the US, as well as a successful ‘at home’ machine system while Starbucks has expanded its coffee shop brand into at-home coffee products.

Unilever declined to provide any further details about the concept but it is due to launch in selected countries this year ahead of a global roll out from 2013, with full roll out expected by 2017, according to the job spec.

The concept will be part of Unilever Food Solutions division, which supplies restaurants and the catering industry, but will form a new strand of the business.

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Tom Fishburne is founder of Marketoon Studios. Follow his work at marketoonist.com or on Twitter @tomfishburne See more of the Marketoonist here