Belfast Telegraph

Top tea firm sees sales rising by 25%

By Staff Reporter

A luxury tea company is shrugging off the effects of Brexit, with revenues set to grow 25% this year and the firm planning to enter 25 new markets by 2021.

Suranga Herath, chief executive of the English Tea Shop, said he is optimistic about business prospects in the years ahead, despite uncertainty over potential trade restrictions after the UK leaves the EU.

"We have worked out scenarios - in fact that is something that we did soon after Brexit - but none of the scenarios are showing us any great concerns in terms of tariff and non-tariff barriers," he said.

"The products we deal with are not something that could be taxed heavily or would be blocked heavily."

The company - which sells in stores including Harrods, Selfridges and hotels such as The Grange and Strand Palace - currently sources tea and herbs from farms in over a dozen countries, which are then manufactured at its plant in Sri Lanka.

While some of that tea is shipped directly from Sri Lanka to countries like the US, Russia and Belgium, the vast majority is routed through the UK before being exported to markets including Canada, Japan and more than 24 EU countries.

Mr Herath said the company is not considering changing its distribution model to avoid having to ship from the UK if new tariffs were introduced, but he assured that the business could "adjust very quickly" if it needed to divert tea shipments from its Sri Lankan plant to other international ports.

But he said no other shipping route provides the benefits as the one that is currently running between Sri Lanka and the UK.

"The UK has been a tremendous hub... from Colombo we have a transit of 14 days to the UK."

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