Winning with loose: UAE’s BRW Society makes first foray into brick-and-mortar after securing Spinneys contract

By Guan Yu Lim

- Last updated on GMT

The products are currently only distributed in UAE, although BRW Society has ambitious plans to expand regionally ©BRW Society
The products are currently only distributed in UAE, although BRW Society has ambitious plans to expand regionally ©BRW Society

Related tags Middle east Uae Supermarket Tea

UAE-based loose tea leaf company BRW Society will retail in the Spinneys supermarket chain by the end of the year after being selected as one of 24 winners of its incubator programme.

This is BRW Society’s first foray into the brick-and-mortar channel, having previously relied on its digital presence through its website, online platforms such as Namshi, Noon, and fitness and gifting sites.

The firm was launched in UAE October 2019 with founder and managing director Laura Manning hoping to change the tea drinking habits of consumers in the region and offer a wider range of loose leaf tea products. As a small business, Manning is joined by creative director, Jules Seddon.

The demand for loose tea leaf is growing here, especially since the UAE is home to many expats, who are willing to experiment with different flavours and pairing teas with foods​,” Manning said.

BRW Society currently retails 40 variants of loose leaf tea, mostly comprising herbal teas, fruit infusion, and a small number of tea products (green tea, black tea). The firm also releases seasonal blends such as products for summer, fall and Christmas.

Seddon added that people were also beginning to understand the health benefits of loose leaf tea and what she believes is the smaller environmental impact compared to bags.

For instance, its herbal tea blends are made from fruits, herbs, and flowers, marketed for skin hydration, sleep improvement, stress relieving and others.

Manning told us: “When I moved to the UAE, I was uninspired by the tea products in supermarkets, it has a narrow range, and the market was stale​.” In the UAE, black tea bag dominated the tea scene.

Before this, I lived in the UK where there was a vast variety of tea bag and loose leaf tea. As a tea addict, I want to show people the creations that you can do with tea and infusion​.”

Manning said the firm was focused on educating consumers on brewing tea.

It joined the Spinneys incubator programme which allowed local and micro food and beverage companies fast-tracked onto Spinneys’ shelves for 12 months. The programme received over 160 applications.

Watch the video to find out more about BRW Society upcoming move into Spinneys.

Seddon said there would be between 10 to 12 SKU products on Spinneys shelves, although they would rotate as seasons change. She added that Spinneys would also be conducting in-store sampling for customers.

Manning said its candy floss green tea and organic glow herbal tea blend were popular among Gen Z. For millennials, popular items were its moringa supercharge, mango madness, melon mint, and raspberry mojito.

The company imports raw materials globally, with fruits and herbal infusion from Europe, spices from China, and green tea from Japan. It has a repackaging facility located in Dubai, and its packaging is sourced locally.

Staying focused

The company had an initial online focus due to several reasons. Manning explained: “Tea is light and easy to ship around the world. It [online] was a good way to get our products into market quickly​.”

Prior to the pandemic, the company was also moving into the HORECA industry having secured a hotel contract, but had to switch tracks after the food service sector was shut down.

The firm then pivoted and changed focus, increasing its online marketing to expand reach.

In terms of online sales during June to August, they have more than doubled. Manning said: “Customers in the UAE are making more purchases online since the pandemic and by working with multiple online platforms we are able to reach a wider audience​.”

The products are currently only distributed in UAE, although BRW Society has ambitious plans to expand regionally, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, and beyond such as North America, Europe, UK and Australia.

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