Tea company Ringtons plans to diversify its traditional door-to-door delivery business by opening a chain of up to 100 tea and coffee shops across the UK.
The famous Newcastle company plans to take on Whittards of Chelsea after recruiting the tea and coffee chain's chief executive Mark Naughton-Rumbo and two senior executives in April this year.
Family-owned Ringtons, which employs more than 500 staff and celebrates its 100th anniversary next June, wants to add at least 50% to its current annual turnover of around £30m with the expansion over the next 10 years.
The first store, which will operate under the Ringtons name, will open in Cambridge later this month, and will be followed by stores in Canterbury and Brighton before the end of the year. The company is currently scouting for a fourth store to be opened some time next year.
The stores, which will be up to 500sqft in size in "secondary" high street locations, will initially stock 200 varieties of tea and coffee, rising eventually to 500, as well as teapots, china, biscuits and connected products.By Nigel Stirling, The Journal
Picture shows a Mason's "Teapot collection" plate