It's 'goodbye' Gong Cha, 'hello' LiHO

It's 'goodbye' Gong Cha, 'hello' LiHO
PHOTO: AsiaOne

Taiwanese bubble tea franchise Gong Cha opened its first outlet here in November 2009, just as the second wave of the bubble tea craze was beginning to sweep over Singapore.

Today, Gong Cha is as much a synonym for bubble tea as rival brand Koi is.

Come June 5, however, Gong Cha will be no more, as all its 84 outlets will be replaced by homegrown tea brand LiHO.

Already, more than 30 outlets across the island have been converted to LiHO outlets, with the flagship LiHO outlet being at Bugis+.

With 47 items on its menu, LiHO promises high-quality tea at affordable prices, with a good mix of classic milk teas, juices and trendy drinks such as cheese tea.

"The fundamental is still the tea, which we never compromise on," said Mr Rodney Tang, Managing Director of Royal T Group, which is LiHO's parent company.

Come June 5, however, Gong Cha will be no more, as all its 84 outlets will be replaced by homegrown tea brand LiHO.

The tea leaves are sourced from a local supplier with 20 years of experience.

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

Mr Tang confessed that if there was anyone who might feel sad to say goodbye to Gong Cha, it should really be him. He added that the decision to discontinue the popular bubble tea chain was "almost impossible" to make.

He had found out in January that the parent company of Gong Cha in Taiwan, Royal Tea Taiwan, had sold its business to Gong Cha Korea, which is owned by Japanese private equity firm Unison Capital.

He then decided to start his own homegrown tea chain.

However, he hoped that fans of Gong Cha would understand his decision.

"To the real Gong Cha fans, I hope that you continue to support me, and I'm really sorry I had to make a decision like that," he said. He added that he appreciated the support that he received from his loyal fans, and that he hoped he would be able to do even better with LiHO.

pariel@sph.com.sg

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