Multiple award-winning Taiwan specialty coffee chain HWC Coffee, today signed a joint venture agreement with Subplace, to bring the specialty coffee brand to Malaysia, as part of its Southeast Asia expansion push.
With growing coffee industry as leverage, HWC Coffee and Subplace scale up their business in Malaysia, and aim to be one of the revered specialty coffee chains globally, guided by business philosophy of "finding the specialty coffee you’ll love”. Both parties have formulated three-pronged growth strategies, including setting up physical stores that offer shopping experiences that cannot be replicated in the online space; listing products on the major online or offline marketplaces to improve products availability; capitalising on Subplace’s subscription services allowing Malaysian coffee lovers to sip a cup of premium coffee at an affordable price.
Founded by Penny Lim and a group of coffee cuppers, HWC Coffee operates more than 70 stores in Taiwan as of today. The company obtained halal certification from Taiwan Halal Integrity Development Association and won the Halal Brand Awards in 2018.
HWC Taiwan and Subplace, the largest subscription platform in Malaysia, inked a collaborative agreement that set forth both parties' collaboration and strategic plans ahead, including positioning Malaysia as the Southeast Asia hub. They intend to expand businesses into Singapore, Brunei, Vietnam and Indonesia in future.
The company unveiled a new tagline - EspresSoul’ – derived from the word Espresso, which means to awaken the soul of coffee, during the signing ceremony. Subplace Founder Hoe Kian Choon, CEO Mak Wai Hoong,Taiwan HWC Founder Penny Lim ,Marketing Consultants Sam Mak, Palaterium Sdn Bhd Chief Executive Officer Zenda Ng and COO Penny Chan, Marketing Manager Edmund Lai were present at the ceremony that took place at GM Hall in GMBB here. GM Hall is uniquely positioned within a creative retail environment that promotes the importance of art, culture and community.
Southeast Asia is one of the fastest-growing regions for coffee globally, with retail sales hitting $6.5 billion or a 6% compound annual growth rate, HWC Coffee Chief Executive Zenda Ng said, citing research published by Euromonitor International. Retail sales of coffee may get a boost in future in tandem with the improvement in spending power of the middle class, she added.
"The acceptance of specialty coffee, which was deemed as pricey and premium, has been on the rise, on shifting consumption patterns and improving personal finances. Our business prospects remain promising as the coffee industry will continue growing amid rising coffee culture and consumption,” Ng said.
HWC Coffee, which aims to open 15 kiosks and retail stores nationwide this year, is set to unveil the maiden coffee brand store at 1 Utama Shopping Centre in April, she said. This will be followed by Sunway Velocity, Aeon Taman Maluri, Sunway Putra Mall and IOI City Mall before entering into Brunei market by year-end, she added.
“The franchise model has been proven to be an agile yet strong and supportive business model. We will be working on this once our businesses are on track. We will provide training to franchisees and their management, apart from developing unique products and services based on market trends, to win more market share from our peers,” she said.
HWC Coffee is not merely a brand with more than 70 stores in Taiwan, which run professionally by certified coffee professionals with great talent management; it also has a team of experts in Malaysia, who know ins and outs of local food and coffee culture. With this, the company has the ability to develop localised products that differentiate the brand from others, Ng shared.
With Subplace's unique subscription system and extensive database, it is almost effortless in promoting specialty coffee. Hence, the team is confident that HWC Coffee will become one of the leading specialty coffee chains in the country, she said.
"The country's economy is still in the recovery stage after being hit by the pandemic. We believe now is the best time to bring some high-quality brands such as HWC Coffee into Malaysia. With our planned expansion, we could create job opportunities for those affected while training more professional baristas to raise the bar of the coffee industry," she said.
In future, Ng said HWC Coffee would set up an internationally recognised barista academy, to promote baristas as a career and speciality coffee.
HWC Coffee is a specialty coffee brand from Taiwan, said Founder Penny Lim, adding the team had travelled to Panama from Taiwan to find high-quality coffee beans. “With our farm-to-cup approach, we guarantee every cup of coffee is compiled with the highest and finest quality. This is our commitment to our customers.”
Penny shared the company has been investing in research and development, and successfully launched an application with AI (artificial intelligence) features.
“According to my observation, there is still great room for Malaysia’s coffee industry to grow, therefore I choose Malaysia as our Southeast Asia expansion hub. With Subplace’s dedicated team and strong marketing experience, I am confident that the collaboration will yield good results given the vast opportunity in the market,” she said.