Whittard brings tea back to Canary Wharf
It's taken a while but tea has well and truly returned to east London.
Whittard of Chelsea has set up shop in Canary Wharf just yards away from where the first shipments of the produce from India and China arrived in the UK.
It's the first time the 130-year-old firm has branched out anywhere east of Covent Garden.
Speaking of the Wharf opening, which took place at the end of June, Whittard CEO Mark Dunhill said: "We'd been waiting to come here for a while and this was the opportunity. It's a fantastic location with an incredibly high footfall.
"It was an ideal opportunity to present the new face of Whittard to a large number of people we see as our potential customers.
"It's the first store in east London and I like to think it certainly won't be the last."
Mark joined the firm at the beginning of the year with the aim of turning tea drinkers from "consumers to connoisseurs" following in the footsteps of wine and coffee revolutions.
With around 80 million cups of tea drunk in Britain each day Mark believes there's more than enough people in the market for him to convince. When we were young, drinking wine it was the £5 cheap plonk we tended to drink and that's similar to how tea tastes have evolved," said Mark.
"Now we want people to come to Whittard when they want tea rather than wheeling their trolley along the supermarket aisle. This would be in the same way people are going to farmers markets to buy meat and fishmongers to purchase fish."
The key to that transformation is to create a conversation with staff. The store at Canada Place, formerly Tie Rack, has been turned into a cosy alcove to reflect the ambition and there is also a pop up bar in Canary Wharf to increase brand awareness - and offer iced teas - throughout the summer.
"We want Wharfers to engage with our staff and learn about tea," said Mark. "It's got to be less supermarket and more apothecary.
"When the customer goes home with the tea they will have a few friends round and have a story to tell about where it comes from."
Go to whittard.co.uk.