Famous tea brand Twinings is on the hunt for a Central London flagship store that will be its first opening in 300 years.
Twinings, which has had a small shop on London’s Strand since 1706, is eyeing high-footfall locations in the West End, including Covent Garden and Regent Street, and says it has plans more shops across the UK.
The initiative could potentially bring Twinings into competition with Whittard of Chelsea, the tea and coffee specialist once controlled by Baugur and now owned by private equity firm Epic.
Twinings head of business development David Oakley would not reveal the exact number of stores planned but said a roll-out strategy was being developed.
Twinings, which is owned by Primark parent Associated British Foods, is also considering opening concessions in the UK.
Oakley said there was also scope for overseas stores in countries where the label is already sold, such as the US, Russia, and France. The brand trades as Twinings of London in 155 countries.
As well as selling teas, the shop will offer accessories, such as tea pots. It will also sell other brands alongside Twinings goods.
Oakley said: “It’s a way to ignite desire for our brand. It’s about brand engagement. We’re making a serious investment in a first-class, quality shop fit.”
The “experiential” shop will feature a tea bar in the middle, where customers can try out different types of tea. There will also be a “tea house” - a side room where events can take place. Oakley said the store design fitted in with Twinings’ UK marketing strategy of “making Twinings loved”.
He said that Twinings’ website, which was launched in November 2009, had exceeded expectations and online sales were expected to double this year.
The existing store on the Strand attracts 150,000 people a year and is popular with tourists.
Property agent Jones Lang LaSalle acts for Twinings.