(DavidsTea on Johnson Street/Google Photos)

Free tea samples around town might become a permanent thing of the past, as DavidsTea announces their decision to transition to an online and wholesale model.

In a statement on Wednesday, the specialty tea company announced a restructuring plan that fast tracks the process of transitioning the majority of their business to an online retailer and wholesaler model under the under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act.

This means the majority of their brick and mortar locations will be permanently shut down.

There are three DavidsTea branches in Victoria at Uptown Shopping Centre, Hillside Shopping Centre, and a standalone location on Johnson Street in the city’s downtown core.

In a statement to Victoria Buzz, a spokesperson for the company says there is currently no information on whether or not these locations will reopen.

The switch to an online and wholesale model was made after the company’s management and Board of Directors reviewed the losses from their brick and mortar stores, in light of the particularly challenging retail environment exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With all stores closed since mid-March, many of our loyal tea-loving customers have already shifted to buying our products online, and in supermarkets and pharmacies across Canada,” said founder and interim CEO Herschel Segal in a statement.

“I sincerely regret the impact the restructuring of our business will have on some of our exceptional and passionate employees. This has been an incredibly difficult decision to take, but a necessary one to ensure the long-term viability of our Company.”

DavidsTea has been experiencing declining revenue from their brick and mortar locations for several years, leaving them particularly vulnerable to the economic impacts of COVID-19 shut down.

Decisions on which locations across the country will shut down for good depend on a number of factors, including whether the company can reach agreements with landlords on more favourable lease conditions.

All 222 brick and mortar DavidsTea stores have been closed since March 17 due to the pandemic, and will remain closed until further notice.