Vivian Lai closes 2nd bubble tea outlet in S'pore, but expansion still in the works

At its peak, Teabrary had three outlets locally.

Mandy How | May 18, 2022, 10:55 AM

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Teabrary has closed two of its three outlets in Singapore.

At its peak, the brand had three outlets in Singapore: Fook Hai building, Esplanade Xchange, and Holland Village's Taste Gourmet Market.

After its latest closure at Esplanade Xchange, the bubble tea brand is left with its only outlet at Le Quest in Bukit Batok, which started in January 2022.

Speaking with Mothership, Vivian Lai confirms that the store unfortunately had to cease operation.

The 45-year-old actress is the owner of Teabrary, which she set up in Sep. 2019.

"However, we are currently looking for opportunities to expand Teabrary, including looking for new locations to open more outlets as well," Lai adds.

In the meantime, the company is focusing on the R&D (research and development) of a new range of products, which will be "launching soon."

Breaking even

Prior to its closure at Esplanade Xchange, Teabrary's Holland Village outlet had also shut down due to Covid-19.

This was so that the brand could focus on deliveries and e-commerce, Lai said in an earlier conversation with Mothership.

Despite the two closures, the six-figure sum that Lai invested has already been recouped, she previously revealed.

Teabrary also has outlets in China, Cambodia, and Myanmar, although Lai doesn't oversee them directly. Instead, a partner company helps to co-manage it.

But getting a brand off the ground and running it locally is still no mean feat.

"I really wish I had 48 hours a day," Lai semi-joked.

In her role as a founder, Lai actively participates in much of the process, from marketing to quality control.

She has also spent the past couple of years building up her own team, which has over 10 people now.

While it's not big per se, Lai said, there's good chemistry between coworkers now, which enables things to run smoothly.

One of Teabrary's latest projects is a collaboration with Dilmah, a tea company that has become a familiar sight on supermarket shelves.

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A post shared by Lai Vivian (@veravivian)

Working together, both brands have come up with bottled ice tea in six flavours, going for S$2.50 each.

You can find these at FairPrice, 7-Eleven, Caltex Star Marts, and online platforms like Redmart, Redmart, and Shopee Mall.

Working with Dilmah is a big step forward for Teabrary, which Lai described it as "a brand that needs no introduction".

But that's not all in the works.

Lai also has plans to set up a cafe specialising in tea-themed food, such as tea pasta.

The actress, however, did not specify when that will be, so we'll have to keep our eyes peeled for that.

Top image via Teabrary on Google Maps, Vivian Lai's Facebook page