Singapore-based TWG Tea has established its first North American retail presence in Vancouver. The 3,000 square foot hybrid retail space and tea salon is located in the city’s ‘luxury zone’ at 1070 West Georgia Street, in a location formerly occupied by the Urban Tea Merchant. According to TWG co-founder and Director of Corporate Communications, Maranda Barnes, more Canadian TWG locations are expected to follow as the brand establishes itself in North America.
TWG Tea was founded in Singapore in 2008, as a division of The Wellness Group (hence the ‘TWG’ name), and now operates 57 locations globally, mostly in Asia. The brand is expanding internationally into new markets such as Europe, the Middle East and Oceania, and has set its sights on North America. TWG offers more than 800 varieties of tea and single-origin harvests, at a variety of price points. While some varieties are affordably priced, some rare teas are priced into the thousands for as little as 50-100 grams.
The new 3,000 square foot Vancouver boutique, one of the largest in the world according to Ms. Barnes, features retail area for teas, as well as tea accessories, including tea pots, kitchenware, tins, candles, tasting sets, and gifts. It also features a 50-seat salon serving tea by the cup, as well as tea-infused edibles that include various sweet and savoury recipes.
Vancouver was chosen for its tea-drinking culture and high Asian population, according to Ms. Barnes, in a telephone interview. The city is also a tourist destination, being both relaxed and cosmopolitan, she said. TWG referenced a recent Euromonitor report noting that “in 2015, tea sales in Canada amounted to CDN $1.3 billion and consumption is expected to grow an additional 40% by 2020.”
TWG’s Canadian operations are franchised under VanSing Distribution Group, operated by CEO Tom James and president and COO Karinna James — also the founders of the former Urban Tea Merchant which operated in the same location from 2004 until several months ago.
Ms. Barnes said that she expects more TWG locations to open in Canada. Airports such as Vancouver International Airport could be targeted, she said, as could department stores to operate boutique concessions. Markets such as Toronto and Montreal could also eventually see TWG Tea salons, she said, though the company will first gage the popularity of its first North American venture, in Vancouver, prior to making any concrete national expansion plans.