Setting up a tea bar and shop in the UK - advice needed


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Setting up a tea bar and shop in the UK - advice needed

Postby Jack_teachat » Jun 19th, '09, 05:49

Dear all,

I would greatly appreciate any help or advice you can give me.

For quite some time now my wife and I have been thinking of setting up a teabar/shop. We are recently married and both quite young, and with the shrinking graduate job market strongly inclined to have a go at going into business ourselves. My wife currently works in childcare but has worked in the food/drink industry, albeit for a brief period in the past. I am just about to finish a Masters degree in History, have little business experience, but have worked for a high quality supermarket chain here in the UK.

Despite the current economic climate we really want to start our own business, most probably here in Leicester, England. I would wish to cater for both the tea novice and connoisseur, specialising in black and oolong teas from China and Taiwan and green teas from Japan. What is really important to me is provenance and freshness, and so would wish to source the best quality product I could to serve to my customers. One option would be to approach a high quality retailer such as Jing (UK), but I rather like the idea of sourcing my own teas from individual farms/suppliers directly at the source. The problem being that I would not know where to start!

I have a fairly clear vision of the kind of business that I would want to run, but instead of posting it all here in one big lump, I would be very grateful for any feedback/questions you may have for me, and hopefully we can establish some sort of useful dialogue in this thread.

Thanking you in Advance

Jack :D
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Postby virago_ns » Jun 19th, '09, 13:14

Hi Jack,

I'm in the same position, except opening a tea house in Canada. My advise would be to find a location with heavy traffic (both foot and vehicle). Your store front will provide advertising that you won't get anywhere else.
Second is to develope a strong business plan. There are tons out there online that you can look at, I'm not sure about UK resources though. There are quite a few books on opening a tea/coffee shop. The book I got actually came with a sample business plan that I've adapted for my own shop.
Thirdly is financing. Try not to over finance your shop. It's difficult, but it really helps to have a considerable amount inversted in non-bank money. Eases cash flow and allows for some flexability.
Ohh... and research your tea. Read and find out as much as you can. This forum is an awesome source of info. Your suppliers are key as well, probably easier for you being in the UK than it was for me being in Canada.
Feel free to PM me if you have any specific questions. I plan on opening shop in September this year (cross my fingers).
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Postby Jack_teachat » Jun 21st, '09, 07:35

Hi

Thank you for you reply, your advice is most welcome. I will keep you updated!

Jack :D
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Re: Setting up a tea bar and shop in the UK - advice needed

Postby Wan Ling » Nov 23rd, '11, 02:40

Hi Jack,

How is the project going? If you are open can you post some pictures?

Unfortunately don't get a chance to travel up North much, but we had a good tour of tea bars in London this summer. Check out people like Tea Smiths, they have a good concept and are up and running. Tea near St. Pauls was quite interesting too, they had a more general tea/coffee/food concept going on.

A key thing I suspect is to balance range with stock. It is lovely to offer hundreds of teas but from a business perspective you need to be turning them over as often as possible.

Next thing is tea wares. What is easy to use/clean and robust? Can you use the same wares for service and sales?

Look forward to an update.

Wish you all the best with the project. Look forward to more concept tea shops in the UK. About time.
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Re: Setting up a tea bar and shop in the UK - advice needed

Postby Kristine1985 » Nov 25th, '11, 03:19

You just have to make sure that the ambiance of your cafe is enticing for all. [a href="http://www.howtoopenacafe.com/about/"]starting a cafe[/a] is hard as well as maintaining its condition.
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Re: Setting up a tea bar and shop in the UK - advice needed

Postby djlau » Dec 13th, '11, 20:05

Hi Jack, we're doing construction on our tea house in Berkeley right now. It's a lot of money, be prepared for the cumulative sum of all those small costs. Based on what you've said so far, I think the best course of action would be to build a tea bar and develop your brand. The most efficient purchasing strategy would be to build a network of suppliers, local or in the country of production, that you trust and that carry teas you like.

I do a lot of sourcing myself. At first I started with China and Taiwan. I don't think I will be tackling China by myself again anytime soon because it's just too big. The reason why I focus on Taiwan is because of my strong network of family and friends there. Still, I am not, and don't plan to limit my options to tea sourced solely by me. As a two person team you'll have limited time and resources. Marketing is a tough enough job as is. When you add purchasing things start to get real crazy.

It's my opinion and analysis that the tea import and wholesale industry is much better developed than the tea house/bar/room industry. The latter requires a lot of investment and seems like something that few entrepreneurs have been willing to test. Within this sector there are many opportunities for unique, genuine tea houses that have mass market appeal. Samovar is a great example.
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Re: Setting up a tea bar and shop in the UK - advice needed

Postby Irenee » Mar 16th, '12, 03:51

Hi, Jack,

I am also working on the same thing, while I am in China. Actually, I made this topic as my MBA project, that, how to enter the tea retail market for a SME. Although the marketplace is different, there should be quite a lot in common for plannning. You can reach me via elfirene@hotmail.com.

The first question I think you need to ask yourself is "who do I want to serve?" My personal view is a niche market is easier for a small startup.

By the way, I'm currently working in a swiss farming company here in China. Hence, I can find the best quality tea resources. You can ask me if you want any advice.

Irene
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