Harrogate manufacturer TEA+ launched in 2016, bringing their vitamin-infused tea to the growing healthy hot drinks market. Their innovative tea is now selling in over 2000 locations across the UK and is currently expanding into international markets all over the world. Co-Founder James Dawson (pictured right) tells us more about this husband and wife team’s incredible journey and how they received support from the Department for International Trade (DIT).
James, how did you get started on the TEA+ journey?
TEA+ launched just over three years ago now with the aim to evolve the hot drinks market. We wanted to bring the world of science and function into the tea space and so, for the first time, blended tea with a vitamin supplement to make the first tea of its kind that bridges the gap between hot drinks and vitamin supplements.
We soon saw an explosion of growth in the UK, selling in over 2000 locations through the likes of Holland & Barrett, Boots, Superdrug, Ocado, Wholefoods and others. We had a lot of interest from other markets but didn’t have the resources to support export.
However, due to the speed of our UK growth we were able to get a team dedicated to successfully launching TEA+ in key markets and started on that strategy earlier this year.
What kind of opportunities do you see for TEA+ in growing its customer-base overseas?
We see a lot of opportunity in Europe and further afield. In 2019 we launched in over 400 stores in Ireland, as well as hundreds of stores across Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg, Mexico, Greece, Malta and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Currently, we are finalising our launch in New Zealand and Australia. Next on our radar is the German and Canadian markets where we hope to launch in 2020.
How has exporting helped your business grow?
The opportunity in other markets has opened up a huge revenue opportunity for us. With having such a popular range in the UK, we’ve realised that our range has equal appeal abroad and once we had the distribution channels opened, our repeat rate of sale has been great.
Currently, export accounts for around 20% of our revenue but we are aiming to raise that to more than 60% in the next 12 months as we put a big focus on launching and establishing a presence in the markets mentioned previously.
How has DIT supported your exporting ambitions?
We’ve had a huge amount of support from the Yorkshire and the Humber DIT team. From help with labelling and compliance, to introducing us to relevant contacts in our target markets. In addition, DITs overseas teams have helped us mitigate risk on some large deals with new customers. We’ve also had hands on marketing advice on how we support our new agents and distributors, so all in all DIT has been a huge asset for us as a new exporter.
You joined a DIT trade mission in 2016 to the Netherlands, how important was this trip?
This was a key initial step for us ahead of launching in the Netherlands. The trade mission was a good hands-on experience of meeting relevant distributors and visiting and talking to stores in the country that we would be targeting. This gave us the knowledge to amend our proposals to retailers in the country and because of the trip we are due to launch in the Netherlands later this year.
In 2019, you joined a Northern Powerhouse delegation to the International Food & Drink Event (IFE) in London. How did that go?
Attending IFE with DIT was a great opportunity for us to really connect with international buyers and distributors in a way we wouldn’t have been able to do alone. Leveraging the DIT branding and personnel at the show really helped us meet and progress discussions with certain key decision makers. We managed to progress discussions with a Canadian distributor and discuss new opportunities with contacts from Germany and the Middle East off the back of our involvement in the show.
Do you have any advice for businesses going on their first trade mission?
Trade missions are great for immersing you in the market you are targeting. The itinerary is always a packed one and the experts in attendance have a wealth of knowledge, so I would always recommend a trade mission as an early step to gaining an understanding of the market you are trying to enter. Take advantage of the trade mission and the experienced advisors that are there as you never know what doors could be opened for you.
To find out more about how DIT can support your business growth, get in touch.
Enterprise Growth Solutions Ltd (EGSL) deliver the contract for the Department for International Trade in Yorkshire and the Humber.