The story of Phuc Long's 50-year journey

January 03, 2024 | 09:00
(0) user say
A reputation can take years to build but seconds to break. Following a mega-deal with Masan Group, Lam Boi Minh, founder of the Phuc Long Coffee & Tea brand, spoke with VIR's Thanh Van about his expectations for the future of Phuc Long while taking a look back at the 50-year-old brand.
Phuc Long Coffee & Tea's 50 year journey
Lam Boi Minh, founder of the Phuc Long Coffee & Tea brand

What has given Phuc Long such long-term success?

Our success is attributed to passion and prestige. It requires a lot of perseverance and patience to develop in Vietnam's tea and coffee industry. To formulate a perfect beverage recipe, my team and I experimented hundreds of times to choose one that satisfied all the requirements of colour, fragrance, beauty, and taste.

In addition, we need to be sensible and passionate about the essence of each Vietnamese tea leaf and coffee bean to find the best source of raw materials for each product. Without strong passion for research and creativity infused into every drink, Phuc Long would not have existed on the market for so long.

I always remind myself that a good name is sooner lost than won. It takes a lifetime to build a good reputation and only a minute to lose it.

After so many years of building such a great career, what are your thoughts when you look back?

50 years has gone by in the blink of an eye. Before the transfer of Phuc Long to our partner, we had over 70 stores nationwide. Customers' love for Phuc Long is immeasurable.

Entrepreneurs always hope their businesses will thrive. I aspire to strengthen Phuc Long, but Phuc Long has its own mission. Vietnamese tea and coffee should become more renowned throughout the world.

Indeed, Vietnam is the second-largest coffee exporter in the world and one of the top 10 tea exporters. The quality of Vietnamese tea and coffee cannot be compared anywhere else. In addition, we have a traditional tea and coffee culture that is on par with other countries.

Although Phuc Long is my lifelong passion, I do not keep it for myself. I want to find opportunities and create the best conditions for it to develop.

Phuc Long Coffee & Tea's 50 year journey

Following the deal with Masan Group, what are your expectations for the future?

Before the merger, Phuc Long had secured a strong footprint in the Vietnamese market. The brand has been built on a solid foundation for 50 years and is also the premise for our cooperation.

My goal in developing Phuc Long was to produce material and spiritual values. Everything is built on the ideological foundation of the common good to create good value for society. Therefore, I hope that what I have built will have lasting and sustainable value. It is also my expectation for my partner. Based on these values, we have secured a deal for Phuc Long's future prosperity.

The process is in its final stage. Although Phuc Long is operating with an experienced team, it is not easy to formulate a suitable development strategy in the current economic tough time. However, if we want to go far together, Masan is a suitable partner. I believe in the reputation, development strategy, the leadership team's operating capacity, and the partners' financial potential.

Food and beverage (F&B) businesses are facing many challenges. What are your recommendations for them to sail through this tough period?

Every economy goes through a cycle of ups and downs. Challenges come with opportunities. Vietnam's F&B industry has enormous potential and there are opportunities for all players. Creativity plays a vital role in making a difference.

In addition, balancing output quality and finished product price needs to be carefully calculated. It is equally important to manage and train the workforce. If personnel are qualified, the output quality will be protected. Along with a learning spirit, businesses must update technology to improve service quality daily.

I started building Phuc Long by researching and learning about tea and coffee in the simplest and smallest steps. In the 90s, when coffee makers were still a luxury device, I was determined to import one coffee maker to our store in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City.

Since then, I have created unique formulas to craft different types of tea and coffee. During the pandemic, I also came up with a way to transport drinking water at the counter using pulleys to ensure social distancing. If you dare to think and dare to do, wisdom will always shine through, especially in times of difficulty.

What do you think is the main impact of merger and acquisition (M&A) trends on F&B businesses?

I am not an expert in making technical or analytical comments on its impact. However, from my point of view, M&A also has many different models and implementation methods. We need to consider the operation strategy of the parties to develop an model to achieve efficiency. This needs to be carefully studied by all parties.

In addition to technical factors, the most important thing is that agreements must be carried out in the spirit of respect for the law and mutual respect.

As I said, a good name is sooner lost than won. All parties must work together to resolve emerging problems. Thus, it ensures a smooth merger process for the overall development of the parties.

Lam Boi Minh developed the idea for Phuc Long in 1968. By the 1980s, with a bold entrepreneurial spirit, he opened three Phuc Long stores in Le Van Sy, Tran Hung Dao, and Mac Thi Buoi streets in Ho Chi Minh City.

Phuc Long carries his passion with the goal of creating quality drinks with premium ingredients to reach the most customers without losing the essence of the traditional culture of Vietnamese tea and coffee.

After 50 years of operation in the market, the Phuc Long Coffee & Tea brand has earned recognition and conquered many different customer groups, from the young to middle-aged, from office workers to creatives.

Behind the $455 million valuation of Phuc Long Behind the $455 million valuation of Phuc Long

With the synergy of resources from Masan’s consumer-retail ecosystem, Phuc Long has quickly scaled up its operation in terms of revenue, stores, and enterprise valuation.

Coffee chains ditching kiosk model Coffee chains ditching kiosk model

Changes in operating patterns are taking place at many beverage chains as the number of kiosks begins to dwindle, making way for the return of flagship stores.

Drinks chains tinker with new models Drinks chains tinker with new models

Many beverage chains have been forced to close their out-of-date business models, despite being effective during the pandemic and being good for brand building.

By Thanh Van

What the stars mean:

★ Poor ★ ★ Promising ★★★ Good ★★★★ Very good ★★★★★ Exceptional