The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Making chai-bars the flavour of the town
- Assam Company subsidiary to promote Camellia brand

Calcutta, Nov. 22: The Jajodia-owned Assam Company, the world’s oldest tea firm, will set up a subsidiary to promote its ‘Camellia’ tea bars.

“The subsidiary will be called Camellia Tea Limited. We will run it as a separate profit centre,” said Arun Grover, deputy chief operating officer (marketing and strategy).

Assam Company, a member of the Duncan Mcneill group, hopes to generate 20-25 per cent of total revenues from its tea bars. The company’s turnover in 2002-03 stood at Rs 160 crore.

The company has worked out an ambitious plan for expanding its tea bar business. In the next three years, the company will set up 100 tea bars in India and abroad.

The company has five Camellia tea bars in Calcutta. The most recent one was set up at the Forum — a shopping mall in the city.

“We will soon launch a Camellia tea bar at the Tea Centre in Mumbai. Tea Centre is has been developed by the Tea Board of India to promote Indian tea,” said Grover. After Mumbai, the bars will be launched in Pune, Goa, Delhi and Bangalore.

About 60 per cent of India’s population is below the age of 24. The company wants to make tea popular among people of this age group.

The domestic consumption of tea is decreasing and it has come down from 3 per cent to 1.8 per cent this year. “We want to add excitement to tea so that domestic consumption goes up,” said Grover.

The company is in the final stages of setting up tea bars in New York, Canada and Japan.

The tea bars will offer various blends. “The consumers are free to look at and feel the blend. Our tea bar at the Forum offers 15 different blends,” he added.

The company will not bring in ready-to-drink tea for the US markets. It will only offer traditional tea, both hot and cold.

The company has no immediate plans to introduce packet teas under the Camellia brand. “This is not the right time. The packet tea segment is growing as expected,” he said.

The company is retailing most of its tea through these tea bars. It has 19 gardens located in upper Assam and the total production is 19 million kg.

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