Goodbye Gong Cha, hello LiHo

Taiwanese bubble-tea franchise Gong Cha, which opened its first Singapore outlet in November 2009, is about to disappear – its 84 outlets will be replaced by homegrown brand LiHo next week.

More than 30 outlets have already been converted to LiHo outlets, with the flagship at Bugis+.

With 47 items on its menu, LiHo offers a mix of classic milk teas, juices and trendy drinks such as cheese tea.

“The fundamental is still the tea, which we never compromise on,” says MD Rodney Tang of Royal T Group, LiHo’s parent company. It sources its tea leaves from a Singapore supplier with 20 years’ experience.

Since Royal T brought the Gong Cha franchise into Singapore in 2009, it has expanded its repertoire of F&B brands to include franchises such as NeNe Chicken and Paik’s Bibimbap.

Tang says the decision to discontinue Gong Cha was “almost impossible” to make. He decided to start a homegrown chain after discovering in January that the parent company of Gong Cha, Royal Tea Taiwan, had sold its business to Gong Cha Korea, which is owned by Japanese private equity firm Unison Capital.

“I’m really sorry I had to make a decision like that,” he says, noting his appreciation of support received from loyal customers.

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