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Malaysian bubble tea chain brewing up rapid expansion, to revisit IPO plans

(Source: Tealive Instagram)

Malaysia’s Loob Holding, which owns Southeast Asia’s biggest bubble tea brand by stores, will consider plans for a share listing once it reaches its target of operating 1,000 Tealive stores in the country by 2024, its top executive said.

“By then, we may consider an IPO if the timing and pricing are attractive,” Bryan Loo, Loob’s chief executive officer, told Reuters in an interview.

Loob, which opened its 800th Tealive store in Malaysia last month, had previously planned for a Malaysian IPO but put it on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, according to a media report.

In June last year, Loob gained funding from Malaysian private equity fund Creador, which bought a 30 per cent stake in it but the companies did not provide financial details.

“With Creador on board, our options for funding have indeed widened very much,” Loo said, adding that Loob was “adequately funded” for its current planned expansion.

“So the question of whether we will go for an IPO and if so, in which market, is best re-visited a year from now,” said Loo, who founded Loob in 2010 and launched Tealive in 2017.

Tealive makes and sells beverages ranging from pearl milk tea to coffee and has expanded to countries including Vietnam, the Philippines, Australia and the United Kingdom.

The expansion comes a time when Malaysia’s economy grew at its fastest annual pace in a year in the second quarter, with consumer spending picking up strongly following the easing of coronavirus restriction. Other milk tea brands such as CHAGEE and KOI have also expanded rapidly in the Southeast Asian country.

Loob is also gearing up to double Tealive’s store count in the Philippines annually, with a target of 300 stores by 2024 from 25 currently, Loo said.

Besides Tealive, Loob also owns sparkling water maker Sodaxpress, kombucha brand Wonderbrew and coffee brand Bask Bear Coffee. Loob is expanding at a rate of 100 Tealive and 100 Bask Bear Coffee outlets a year in Malaysia, according to Loo.

  • Reporting by Yantoultra Ngui; Editing by Anshuman Daga and Kim Coghill, of Reuters.

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