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Chinese tea chain Heytea quietly backs out of Hong Kong

Chinese tea chain Heytea has closed three quarters of its Hong Kong network, leaving just two stores operating, at Causeway Bay’s Times Square and Sha Tin’s New Town Plaza. 

Three of Heytea’s outlets in Tsim Tsa Tsui – at The Sun Arcade and New World Development’s two K11 malls – have been boarded up. A K11 representative shared with Apple Daily that Heytea had rescinded its tenancy at the end of April. The tea chain had entered K11 Art Mall and K11 Musea in March and September last year, respectively. The K11 Musea flagship dubbed the ‘Heytea Lab’ spanned 4000sqft, offering patrons views overlooking Victoria Harbor and featuring the brand’s first tea-cocktail bar. It lasted less than one year.

Heytea entered Hong Kong in late 2018, with customers queueing for up to four hours at the opening of the inaugural store at New Town Plaza. However, since the protests from June last year, many pro-democratic locals had boycotted the once-hyped tea brand due to its mainland Chinese origins. 

With Hong Kong now divided along political lines, locals initiated their own ‘Hong Kong 5.1 Golden Week’ protest action over the recent long weekend, a reference to the “Five Demands, Not One Less” slogan at the core of last year’s protests. The protest actively supported ‘yellow economy’ businesses which openly support Hong Kong protestors. 

More than 300 Heytea stores continue to operate in Mainland China and the brand made its first international foray into Singapore in 2018. The company sourced its initial funding from He Boquan, an angel investor from IDG Capital, and has just completed another round of financing led by Hillhouse Capital and Coatue Management, valuing the business at RMB16 billion (US$2.3 billion) post-investment.

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