Luckin Coffee Inc. said Tuesday it is planning to launch Luckin Tea as an independent brand, along with a pilot program that would expand its retail partnership model to recruit partners across the globe. The Chinese coffee-shop chain and competitor for Starbucks Inc., which went public in May, said Luckin Tea has enjoyed strong demand since it was launched in April. "To further capitalize on the opportunity in the freshly-brewed tea market, we are strategically launching Luckin Tea as an independent and complementary brand and rolling out the store footprint nationwide," Luckin Chief Operating Officer Jian Liu said in a statement. "We will continue to maintain the high growth of the coffee business, while taking the tea drinks as another important driver to further explore the breadth and depth of the market." Shares fell 1.2% premarket but have gained 2.2% in the last three months, while the S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +1.49% has gained 6.6%.