Highland Coffee Service Joint Stock Company

2023

Asia's Most Influential Companies

Highland Coffee Service Joint Stock Company

Asia's Most Influential Companies

2023

about St. Highlands Coffee Service Joint Stock Company

Brewing success

Vietnam’s Highlands Coffee fuels the love of Vietnamese coffee culture across the nation and beyond its borders. 

Established in 1999, Highlands Coffee was born in Vietnam out of love for coffee and its community. Founded under Viet Thai International Ltd. Co, it entered into a joint-venture with Jollibee Foods Corporation in 2011. Recognizing the power of Vietnamese coffee culture to bring people together and enrich social interactions, the company remains committed to its goal of sourcing, roasting, and retailing high-quality coffee, as well as tea, ice-blended beverages and delicious food complements.

Today, Highlands Coffee operates in two markets, with 700 cafes in Vietnam and 50 in the Philippines. This system of company-owned and franchised cafes serve Asia’s rising middle class a range of high quality, freshly prepared beverages, pastries, cakes, breads, café lifestyle merchandise and packaged coffees. In addition, Highlands Coffee is available online through its own first party channels, as well as through trusted third-party aggregators such as Grab Food and Shopee Food. 

As a pioneer of branded cafe retail in Vietnam, Highlands Coffee leads the sector with 29% market share, double that of its closest competitor. The company also has the highest brand equity, with a score of 32.5, compared to just 15.0 of its next competitor. This is attributed to a strong perception of brand trust, good value for money, delicious taste of coffee and tea, convenient locations, and unique ambience. 

What sets Highlands Coffee apart from other brands in Vietnam and Asia is its contemporary Vietnamese cafe experience. By marrying the traditional Vietnamese “phin” style of brewing for its premium range of coffee, with locally-inspired store designs, the company enables guests to enjoy an aspirational, authentic and accessible coffee lifestyle, ideal for people of all ages to work, relax, recharge and socialize.

Not only that, the brand extends beyond traditional coffee shops by offering online ordering and delivery, as well as packaged roast and ground coffees, instant coffee and ready-to-drink coffee, to meet modern consumer needs. To ensure optimum flavor and quality, the company sources its beans from various regions across Vietnam and hand-roasts using an artisanal process.

Despite facing fierce competition in the coffee and tea industry, Highlands Coffee maintains its edge by focusing on its several key areas such as its distinctive branding, contemporary store design, superior value for money, and the expansion of its store network to increase its market share. At the same time, the company is constantly innovating by introducing new products and services to meet the changing needs of its guests, be it in the form of new coffee blends, tea beverages, food products, merchandise range or store concepts. 

Due to the complexity of the coffee industry and the obstacles of sourcing high-quality coffee beans without compromising fair pricing and ethical practices, Highlands Coffee faces the common challenge of ensuring a sustainable and responsible supply chain. However, it continues to uphold sustainable sourcing practices by working with local coffee farmers and community engagement initiatives. 

Additionally, the brand employs other initiatives such as waste reduction, designing energy-efficient stores, and organising a green project to recycle used cups. This reflects the company’s commitment to reduce its environmental impact, while resonating with the growing demand for ethically sourced products. 

Highlands Coffee also offers various learning and development programs, acknowledging that investing in its employees is essential to the company’s continuous growth and success. These include food and beverage knowledge programs, customer service training, team building, leadership and management opportunities, performance management, and digital and technology skills training. 

All in all, Highlands Coffee’s commitment to quality coffee products and service, an authentic Vietnamese cafe experience, sustainable sourcing, strong branding and innovation makes it an influential company in Asia that’s deserving of this ACES Award.

Eastern Communications’ talent development and career advancement programmes are put in place to determine talents who are ready for next level, leadership roles or critical roles. The organization conducts a Talent Assessment, which determines readiness; and identifies development programs that the incumbent will need to achieve and be successful in the target position.

Shanggari Balakrishnan, Chief Executive Officer, MORS Group

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