You can take all the tea in China and throw it in the deep blue sea, but Tata Global Beverages wouldn't care. The company (owner of the UK's Tetley Tea, supplier to Queen Elizabeth II) is one of India's largest tea growers and marketers, selling its coffee and tea in India (where it is #1 in tea sales), as well as in more than 40 other countries. The company also owns Tata Coffee, which manufactures instant and ground coffee. In addition to Tata and Tetley (which generate about half of sales), the company's brands include Chakra Gold, Gemini, and Kanan Devan. Publicly traded, Tata Global Beverages (formerly Tata Tea Group) is part of the Indian conglomerate, the Tata Group, which owns 35% of its shares.
Tata Global Beverages entered the world stage when it bought the UK's venerable Tetley Tea brand in 2000 for $475 million. Not content with selling its products solely in the UK (and to the Queen, one supposes, although one assumes she serves a good deal of tea at the palace), the company moved into the New World with its purchase of the major US brand, Eight O'Clock Coffee in 2006, paying $220 million for the brand. Continuing its worldwide expansion, Tata in 2009 acquired the Russian tea and coffee distribution business, GRAND, and in 2010 it increased its stake in India's Mount Everest Mineral Water to just over 50%. Shaping itself into a more cohesive organization, the firm has integrated its beverage businesses and in mid-2010 changed its name from Tata Tea Group to Tata Global Beverages. Now the company is reported to be considering selling up to 12% of Tetley Tea in a bid to raise money from private equity investors. The proceeds could help Tata Global finance its push into soft drinks.
To further its global ambitions, Tata Global Beverages and PepsiCo of the US in 2010 formed a joint venture to make noncarbonated beverages for health-conscious consumers. They are targeting the vitamin water, iced tea, sports drink, and energy drink categories.
Tea remains at the core of Tata Global Beverages' operations, brewing up more than two-thirds of revenues. The company's profit margins have been challenged in recent years, however, as the price of tea and related goods (such as milk and sugar) have risen. Tata owns more than 25 tea estates in India and produces about 30 million kilograms (132 million pounds) of black tea a year.
In mid-June 2011 Peter Unsworth resigned as CEO of the company. He was replaced on an interim basis by Percy Siganporia, the managing director of Tata Global Beverages and board member. – less