British company Whittard selling tea to China

24 November 2015 - Janet Bird

British company Whittard selling tea to China

It may sound as likely to succeed as selling ice to Eskimos, but one British retailer is confident it can make a profit exporting tea to China.

Indeed, Whittard of Chelsea is exploring the possibility of opening stores - of both the bricks and mortar and online variety - on the Chinese mainland after a wave of interest in its teas from shoppers in the Far East.

Over the last two years, the number of customers from the Chinese mainland buying Whittard products has doubled - with Earl Grey, herbal and fruit teas proving particularly popular.

Some 400 years after Chinese tea was first brought into Britain by the famed East India Company, there are now around 200 resellers of Whittard products on Tmall, an online Chinese marketplace which is part of the vast Alibaba site.

With these teas often selling for sums vastly above their recommended retail price, Whittard is considering opening its own store on Tmall and hopes physical stores may follow.

It is a possibility that would no doubt have astounded Walter Whittard, who opened the Fleet Street teashop 129 years ago that was to grow into the Whittard chain.

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