From east Reading to across the world, the Agarwal's tea gets everywhere, with a little help from online selling platform - Reading Today

Summary

A READING couple who export tea across the world have been sharing their story and learning from others at a major commercial conference in the town.

Neeraj Agarwal and Vishaka Chhetri Agarwal, from Cardigan Road, in East Reading, have lived in the town since 2011, starting Tea People two years later.

A READING couple who export tea across the world have been sharing their story and learning from others at a major commercial conference in the town.

Neeraj Agarwal and Vishaka Chhetri Agarwal, from Cardigan Road, in East Reading, have lived in the town since 2011, starting Tea People two years later.

The company sells tea and herbal infusions blended, packaged and distributed from their facility in Lovelock Road.

They were among several businesspeople who attended eBay’s Business Roadshow held at the Select Car Lease Stadium on Thursday, July 28.

The online giant offered grants and support packages to sellers worth £1 million during the roadshow, which is touring 12 locations in the UK.

The Agarwals have had gradual growth, with a major expansion worldwide in 2018.

Mr Agarwal said: “E-commerce is growing at a very rapid pace.

“Two years ago – 2020 – there was a big jump, and that growth has continued.

“We saw an increase of almost a 100% in our e-commerce sales in 2020, but in 2021 it did not go back to the pre-covid level, it still grew, we are still experiencing very, very good growth in our e-commerce and eBay plays a big part in that.”

He continued: “We are on the ‘eBay for Change’ programme which connects social and ethical companies in the UK to an audience of 20 million customers.

“It gives us better and wider exposure to customers out there.”

As a social enterprise, it donates 50% of net profits to educational development in tea-growing regions, and in causes associated with healthcare and women’s empowerment.

The purchasing boom from the pandemic means there sales are delivery focused, but people can by tea for collection from their site in Lovelock Road.

Mrs Agarwal said: “While we were initially worried about the loss of physical instore sales, the huge growth in online sales thanks to platforms like eBay helped us to really grow our business.

“That’s why we were delighted to attend the Roadshow.

“When times are tough, coming together with other small businesses and sharing our experiences can be truly powerful.”

The couple spoke on one of the panels at the Roadshow.

Mrs Argawal said: “We talked about the successes and the problems we’ve been having, it was good to share, a lot of the problems were similar.”

Mr Argawal added: “We heard a lot of solutions as well.”

Recently, the couple have managed to increase their exports having appointed distributors in countries like Singapore, Nigeria, the United States, Croatia and Montenegro.

They now have a team of 13, and have invested in a very high value tea bagging machine which has allowed for further growth.

Although business has fallen in EU countries like Germany, France, Italy and Spain due to trade barriers, they are hoping to trade to the United States in coming years.

The event was hosted by Murray Lambell, general manager of eBay UK.

Businesses that attend the roadshow have been exclusively invited to apply for grants and support packages from eBay, with a total value of £1 million.

They are made up in two parts, with £250,000 available in £1,000, £2,000 or £5,000 grants, with up to £750,000 available as Start and Scale Packages to support small businesses to set up and grow through eBay.

Mr Lambell said that this is the first roadshow eBay has hosted in the UK.

“What we wanted to be closer to where our customers and businesses are at,” he said.

“Businesses are in a tonne of pressure to operate successfully, so us to be able to give them a bit of time out of there day to make the most of the selling opportunity is clearly very important.

“This morning I was talking with one of only two remaining glass blowing businesses which exist very near in Reading, they do an amazing job selling neon lights online, eBay is their primary sales channel.

“That’s one of hundreds of examples we have here.”

He added: “eBay is only successful as a business when the businesses that sell on our platform are successful.

“We don’t compete with our sellers, so my team’s job is to help our businesses become more successful and that’s what the grants will help them do.”

From east Reading to across the world, the Agarwal's tea gets everywhere, with a little help from online selling platform - Reading Today
Photo Credit: Reading Today

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