Update (Aug 4): Mr Bean Group has clarified that it is not involved in Gong Cha's return to Singapore, putting widespread rumours to rest, according to Marketing Interactive.
It reported that the confusion may have come about because Mr Kang Puay Seng, who is registered as director of Gong Cha Singapore, happens to be one of the initial co-founders and the former managing director of Mr Bean, before leaving the company in 2015.
But not to worry folks, Gong Cha is still definitely coming back.
In a statement today (Aug 4) from Gong Cha Singapore, it confirmed that Mr Kang heads the local master franchise.
It added that he had sold off Mr Bean after "growing the brand to more than 70 stores and expanded to overseas markets".
According to the statement, the Taiwanese company behind the Gong Cha brand had received over 100 applications for the master franchise for the Singapore market, and Gong Cha Singapore is in discussion with various real estate companies and will be finalising the locations of the outlets in the coming weeks. -AsiaOne
Gong Cha's last sale in Singapore was on June 5 - and pretty much the whole of Singapore mourned its loss.
But just a month after its sudden departure, Gong Cha announced on its Facebook page that it will be "serving [Singaporean customers their] favourite bubble tea very soon," and the social media was soon abuzz with excitement over this news.
Upon hearing the news, we wrote about its impending comeback - and Rodney Tang, General Manager of RTG Holdings and ex-franchisee of Gong Cha, said, "It's expected, so why worry?"
A rather cool reply, given how Tang revealed how he felt "betrayed" by the secret sale of Gong Cha's parent company, Royal Tea Taiwan, to Gong Cha Korea.
So Who Won The Race To Bring Gong Cha To Singapore?
With the promise of bringing the chain in the next few months in a "bigger, better, upgraded format", Kim Soo-Min, president of Unison Capital and co-owner of the Gong Cha brand alongside founder Royal Tea Taiwan Co. also mentioned that they are "not here to compete with LiHO."
"It is not LiHO versus Gong Cha"
"I think it's time to bring new colour to the Singapore market, for example, by introducing a more modern look to our stores and logo and a new menu which we'll customise for Singapore customers."
Thus, rumours were rife on whether or not the Singapore operation would be managed by the parent company, or operated as a franchise as before.
According to iCHEF's blog, the bringer of hope is Kang Puay Seng, managing director and founder of soya bean chain Mr Bean, who registered as Gong Cha Singapore's director last week.
With over 22 years of experience of building Mr Bean up from a stall in People's Park Complex, to over 60 outlets in Singapore and overseas, Kang and his team are certainly no greenhorns when it comes to managing outlets with high sales volumes and high foot traffic.
iCHEF also brings up that the company is also an innovator, constantly launching new products to keep offerings fresh - something that ties in line with Kim's vision of the revamped Gong Cha.
Mr Bean is also commonly found in locations with high foot traffic, and Kang's network could potentially allow Gong Cha to have "access to prime locations, not to mention stronger negotiating power over rent with landlords since they may take up multiple units in the same mall".
This comes especially handy because the new Gong Cha would basically need to start finding new spaces to set up in.
Lastly, making use of Mr Bean's central kitchen could also potentially help in Gong Cha's efforts to scale up and meet demand.
What do you think about the new 'partnership'; and do you think that Gong Cha's comeback would be even stronger with Kang's experience? Let us know in the comments below!