Right, said Fred, let's have a cuppa (herbal) tea

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The Independent Online

Tetley, the tea giant that for more than a century has played on its down-to-earth image, is launching an assault on the burgeoning herbal tea market.

Tetley, the tea giant that for more than a century has played on its down-to-earth image, is launching an assault on the burgeoning herbal tea market.

The group is launching a 12-strong range of herbal, fruit, green and speciality teas. It wants to tap into the growing demand for alternative teas, which is worth around £73m a year in the UK. The market for normal teabags, which Tetley dominates with a 29 per cent share, is worth £500m.

Nigel Holland, commercial director of Tetley UK and Ireland, said the market offered "significant growth". "The Tetley brand is known for a number of things," he said. "It's the market leader, has the highest penetration - more households consume Tetley than any other brand - and it's known for its quality.

"So with these sort of credentials, moving into this specific sector was an obvious next step."

The group, owned by Indian giant Tata Tea, will launch a poster campaign next month and a nationwide television advertising run in September. Of the £5m marketing spend allotted to launching the range over the next seven months, £3m will be spent on television ads.

Mr Holland said it would be the first time that speciality teas had been marketed to the mainstream via television. He added that the "Tea Folk" characters previously used in Tetley promotions would not be used to advertise the new range, which includes Assam, Earl Grey, decaffeinated Green Tea, Camomile Smile, Sweet Cranberry and Summer Merry Berry.

Mr Holland declined to discuss projected revenues for the range but conceded: "It's a significant proportion of turnover that we're going for."

The decision to move into the market was taken following consumer research. "We know there's a lot of demand in this area. A lot of it is down to consumer choice and people's experiences broadening. Tastes are becoming more sophisticated."

Fruit and speciality teas have enjoyed an explosion in popularity in recent years. Edmund Green, tea buyer at specialist retailer Whittard of Chelsea, said: "We have seen demand consistently building up over the years and the feedback we're getting from our stores is that it's a trend here to stay.

"The sky's the limit with the number of flavours and there's a lot of scope from a commercial point of view."

Tetley, which introduced the tea bag to the UK in the 1950s and traces its roots back to 1857, sells more than 60 branded teas in 40 countries worldwide. It has been through a number of owners, including Allied Domecq, before management bought it in 1995. It was then sold to Tata in 2000. Tetley is the biggest-selling tea brand in Canada and the second in the US and worldwide.

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