A DRINKS shop announced plans to open three to four branches in Cebu by 2015.
Happy Lemon Philippines recently opened its 26th branch in the country in Ayala Center Cebu. It plans to open another company-owned branch in Cebu IT Park and SM City Cebu.
Chris Tiu, part-owner of the Shanghai-brand Happy Lemon Philippines, said his team saw an opportunity in bringing the brand to Cebu on the back of the province’s thriving economy, which is supported by robust business activities and high consumer spending.
He said, however, that it took them some time to expand here due to space limitations.
The Happy Lemon in Ayala Center Cebu is in partnership with Cebuano entrepreneur Allen Arvin Tan, whose family is also the franchisee for Shakey’s, Chowking and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.
The shop shares a space with Red Mango, also its sister-company.
Happy Lemon is a Hong Kong-based drink shop that Tiu and his friends from Ateneo de Manila discovered in one of their travels abroad. The group brought the brand to the Philippines, just in time for the milk tea trend becoming popular in the country.
Happy Lemon has over 100 branches worldwide. Its first shop in the Philippines opened in 2010.
Unlike other shops, Tiu said everything in Happy Lemon is fresh and the flavors are distinct. He said the products are all made from freshly-brewed tea.
Since the brand’s opening last week, Tiu said he was happy with the Cebuano reception.
“It’s fantastic so far. Cebuanos were open to try out our drinks and since then we drew traffic from students, young professionals and even families,” said Tiu, who is also an athlete and TV host.
He said they wanted Happy Lemon to be a “homey place with a warm, welcoming ambiance.”
“We want to make it a destination where people can go and hang out with their friends.
This kind of crowd is evident in Cebu, Cebuanos love to hang out and walk around the mall and we want to be one of their destinations when they go malling,” he said.
Happy Lemon offers a range of products such as milk tea drinks, lemon series, fresh teas, cocoa and coffee, specialty drinks and mousse spin.
Asked whether franchising is the best option for people who want to started a business, Tiu concurred but said getting into franchising still depends on a person’s personality.
“If you don’t really have the expertise, for instance in food and business, then it would be good to look for a brand whose system and recipe are already in place because it saves time and energy,” he said.
“On the other hand, I also encourage would-be entrepreneurs who have passion for food to make their own and not rely on other brands. It is also nice to build your own brand and business,” he said.