Bringing German Flavor to China
A baker fulfills his childhood dream By Pan Jianing & Liu Jia
If Alex Morgan had not traveled to Beijing for the Summer Olympic Games in 2008, he could never have imagined his childhood dream coming true in China, far away from Oldenburg, his hometown in Germany.
“The global financial crisis swept over every corner in Europe, including the hotel industry,” said Alex, who worked for a hotel company in London at the time. “I went to Beijing for relaxation, never thinking of settling down in China.”
Invited by two Chinese college friends, Alex set foot in China for the first time in 2008. During his six-week stay, he was astonished by the country’s amazing development and the abundant opportunities it afforded, and made up his mind to seek a new life there.
After the Olympics, he quit his job in London and flew to Beijing. “Coming to China is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life,” Alex, 42, told Beijing Review.
A childhood dream
Six months after working with a German company in Beijing, Alex was transferred to Shenyang, capital of northeast China’s Liaoning Province, for a one-year cooperative project with German automaker BMW.
There, many German friends often complained about the lack of German bakeries, being forced to bring back imported bread from Beijing and Shanghai on their business trips. Alex quickly realized it was a great business opportunity and began to take action. “Running my own business has been my dream since childhood,” Alex said. “I often tell my family and friends I should have come here earlier because then I would have fulfilled my business dream earlier.”
In the late 1930s, before World War II, Alex’s great-grandfather Bernhard Wempe ran a bakery in Oldenburg. “For German people, bread is our most traditional and beloved food as jiaozi is for the Chinese,” he said. Bread is often accompanied by sausages, hams and various marmalades, according to Alex. There are more than 400 different kinds of bread including buns and sliced bread.
“The Wempe Bakery brand and its logo belong to my mum’s family; it is amazing to fulfill my dream and to continue my greatgrandfather’s bakery business almost a century later in China,” Alex exclaimed.
In 2012, several weeks before Wempe Bakery was to open, Alex flew back to Germany and during that trip, visited the Berlin Zoo. He saw the giant panda named Baobao, a diplomatic gift from China to Germany in 1980, which eats pretzels instead of fresh fruits and vegetables.
“The giant panda is the symbol of China and that must be a good omen for my bread business in China,” Alex recalled cheerfully. Now Wempe has become a well-known local bakery with three branches and is also the designated supplier for several hotels such as the Hilton, Summerset, Hyatt and Kempinski.
“Chinese people choose a lucky name when they start a new business, so I did in China as the Chinese do.” Alex said. He named his bakery Wan Pai, which implies good fortune in Chinese: Wan refers to 10,000 and pai means deliveries.
“Making this my base camp, I want to sell