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Company eyeing up plan for tea in China

A SCOTTISH-based tea entrepreneur is eyeing plans to break into the Chinese market - and has seen her latest business brand being accepted on to the buying list of the Marriot hotel chain in the UK.

brewing UP BUSINESS: Anna Louise Simpson is aiming for the Chinese market and expanding into the wellness sector.
brewing UP BUSINESS: Anna Louise Simpson is aiming for the Chinese market and expanding into the wellness sector.

Anna Louise Simpson has created a range of unusual flavours for the Simpsons Teas portfolio.

The Red Velvet Cake Pops are said to taste like the popular sweet treat, while Hitchcock Blonde is a green tea blended with white tea, strawberries and pink love heart candy.

Ms Simpson is still running the Mama Tea business, which at first specialised in drinks for pregnancy, but is also expanding further into the wellness sector to highlight things like beauty and skin tone.

However she believes the greatest growth potential will come through Simpsons Tea and is targeting making sales into Shanghai, where the population is around 25 million people, as well as Japan in the next few years.

Closer to home the company has been taken on to the supplier list for Marriot with the Forest of Arden hotel, in Birmingham, and the London Grosvenor House in Mayfair the first in the chain to stock the teas.

Ms Simpson says she is in talks with a number of other hotels in the group including the Edinburgh one and Dalmahoy on the outskirts of the Scottish capital.

She said: "Mama Tea is where we started. We have moved from a niche, small Scottish tea company into something that really has global potential.

"Restaurants and hotels in the UK is a huge opportunity for us which wasn't really open to us with Mama Tea. It was just too niche."

While export deals are at an early stage, Ms Simpson has made contact with the Venetian hotel and resort in Macau, China, which has 3,000 suites, while a visit to the Hofex trade show in Hong Kong is also pencilled in for next May.

Ms Simpson said: "That Asian market is our main focus over the next few years. We have met a few of the major distributors and retailers but the trade show is such a great gateway.

"Following a trade visit out to China and Japan at the tail end of 2012 we felt there was a massive opportunity if we expanded beyond Mama Tea with a very British product for export markets."

The company's tea is processed by a major European firm and then packed in the UK.

Ms Simpson said the business will continue to sell both brands through their own online stores as well.

She said: "We can sell around the world online. Our first sale of Simpson Tea was to France."

In the UK retail market she has no immediate plans to chase volume sales through supermarkets.

She added: "I'd prefer to start with small retailers and department stores to grow the brand before going into the supermarkets."

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