TAN HIEP PHAT BEVERAGE GROUP

One of the most successful business owners in Vietphái nam, every year his company - soft drinks firm THPhường. - holds a televised gala.

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Broadcast across the country, the 64-year-old sings on stage with pop stars, roông xã bands and other celebrities.


Meanwhile, his 4,000 employees are encouraged khổng lồ enter an annual competition whereby they write songs & poems about hyên.


A multimillionaire whose business was reported to have sầu enjoyed sales of $500m (£354m) in 2015, Mr Tran is known in Vietphái nam as the "king of tea".


He set up THP. (Tan Hiep Phat Beverage Group) in 1994, the same year that the US ended its trade embargo against the country.


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It currently sells more than one billion litres a year of bottled green & herbal teas, energy drinks, water & soya milk in its trang chính market và 16 other countries. And Mr Tran now intends to triple production over the next five years, as it targets the US và other nations.


It is quite an achievement for a man who as a child spent six years living in an orphanage after his mother died in a car crash in 1962 when he was nine. And lượt thích his fellow compatriots, when he was growing up he also had to endure the backdrop of the Vietnam giới War.


After such a tough upbringing, it is perhaps not a surprise that Mr Tran says he is "never afraid" of any challenges that the world of business throws at hyên.


"Always attaông chồng, always fighting," he says. "Because we have sầu been fighting for so many years... so fighting is the way to lớn win."


A serial entrepreneur, Mr Tran started his first business venture in 1976 after he graduated from university in Ho Chi Minc City (formerly Saigon), aged 23.


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The Vietphái mạnh War had only ended a year earlier, and the economy was suffering from heavy sanctions imposed on the victorious communists.


To make money Mr Tran started to produce yeast for bread production out of his living room, using nylon hammocks left behind by the US military as filters.


"The state did not encourage private enterprises then," he says. "We had no equipment, limited technical knowledge, và almost no capital. It was difficult.

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"But goods were extremely scarce, so whatever you made could be sold, that was a good thing for us."


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It was not until the late 1980s that the communist government started khổng lồ encourage the establishment of private companies.


When THP. first started in 1994 Mr Tran says he realised he needed khổng lồ bởi some retìm kiếm inkhổng lồ the drinks market.


He discovered that the annual Drinktec drinks industry trade fair in Germany would be a perfect place to lớn start, so he got his first passport.


Then when they arrived in Germany Mr Tran promptly ditched his fellow travellers khổng lồ attend the trade fair "khổng lồ find out about all the lachạy thử technologies".


"When we first started we had just 20 employees và produced one million litres a year, about 3,000 a day.


He adds that by 2023 the Ho Chi Minh City-based company wants lớn produce more than three billion litres per year.


With Vietnam continuing to enjoy rapid economic growth - up by 6.8% last year, & predicted to rise by a similar amount in 2018 - THPhường says it is targeting more of the country's 90 million consumers.


The company also plans lớn continue lớn increase its exports, which currently represent 10% of its sales. At present it exports mainly to other countries in Asia, but it is now looking elsewhere, & specifically at the US market.


THP's success has brought with it some challenges. A few years baông xã, local truyền thông was highly critical of the way it handled reports of an insect purportedly found in one of their bottles, even though the firm won the case in court.


But it has also brought it khổng lồ the attention of the world's largest soft drinks firms. In 2011 it was approached by Coca-Cola over a potential takeover, but Mr Tran says he walked away from the giảm giá because the US giant didn't want his company to lớn be able to lớn exp& outside of Vietnam.


"Coca-Cola valued the company at $2.5bn, but they wanted us khổng lồ keep our business only within Vietphái mạnh, and that is completely different from our vision. So we walked away."


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So instead THPhường remains a family business, with Mr Tran's two daughters both holding senior roles. While elder daughter Tran Uyen Phuong looks after public relations and kinh doanh, younger daughter Tran Ngoc Bich is in charge of personnel.


Tran Ngoc Bich says: "My father has a motto lớn which is now the company motkhổng lồ - today is better than yesterday, but not as good as tomorrow. He is always looking ahead to lớn the next step."


The next big step for THPhường. may be a succession plan, but in the meantime it is all about increasing sales.


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This is the 16th story in a series called Connected Commerce, which every week highlights companies around the world that are successfully exporting, & trading beyond their trang chủ market.

Fiachra Mac Cana, trùm of Ho Chi Minch Securities, a firm that invests in Vietnamese companies, says that if THPhường (or other Vietnamese businesses) want khổng lồ substantially increase their exports they need lớn become globally-known brands.


"When Toyota is mentioned people automatically think of Japan," he says. "I hope that when THPhường. is mentioned in the future, people will automatically think of Vietnam."