‘Some­times you may fail and have to bear the blow of fail­ure’

China Daily (Canada) - - HONG KONG - By SO­PHIE HE in Hong Kong so­phiehe@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

For Don­ald Tse Po-tat, Chair­man and Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor of Hung Fook Tong, his en­try into the Chi­nese herbal prod­ucts in­dus­try came purely by chance.

He told China Daily that orig­i­nally, he was a cup­boards sup­plier and had no knowl­edge of how to make tra­di­tional Chi­nese herbal drinks.

“I pro­vided cup­boards to food and bev­er­age stores, and I helped the own­ers de­sign their cup­boards.”

But it was dur­ing this time that he was in­tro­duced to the re­tail sec­tor when in­ter­act­ing with clients. He re­calls that oc­ca­sion­ally he would of­fer a set of cup­boards in exchange for a stake in a new store. Some­times, he even helped his clients to find a re­tail space to open a shop.

“Later I en­tered the food and bev­er­age in­dus­try my­self. I opened restau­rants and then a cha chaan teng. I also have opened a cafe­te­ria near in­dus­trial build­ings and a chain store that sells fresh juice.”

In April 1986, Tse met Wong Ching­fat, the founder of Hung Fook Tung. Ini­tially, Tse helped him to de­sign his first shop and sup­plied him with the cup­boards.

“From my ex­pe­ri­ence in the food and bev­er­age in­dus­try, I know that tra­di­tional Chi­nese herbal tea shops rarely went out of busi­ness as most of these shops in Hong Kong are owned by fam­i­lies. They have their own recipe so they don’t have to rely heav­ily on any out­siders. Be­sides, the costs to open such a shop it are not much.”

Tse also says that peo­ple al­ways pay be­fore they take their herbal tea, so it is a cash busi­ness and the shop owner does not have to worry about cash flow.

Then Tse says he re­ally got to know Wong as a per­son, and judged him to be some­one of great char­ac­ter. A month af­ter Wong opened the first Hung Fook Tung shop in July 1986, Tse asked to be his busi­ness part­ner.

“I said I want to be his busi­ness part­ner and we should open more Hung Fook Tung shops to­gether, and I promised him I will make the name Hung Fook Tung fa­mous in Hong Kong.”

But Wong re­fused, ques­tion­ing why he would part­ner up with an out­sider like Tse who didn’t even know how to make tor­toise herbal jelly.

Tse says he took Wong’s words as a chal­lenge, and then asked all the herbal tea shop own­ers he knew how to make tor­toise herbal jelly. Af­ter learn­ing from all of them for three days, Tse brought Wong his own tor­toise herbal jelly for him to try.

Wong said he didn’t like it at first, but Tse was con­fi­dent and firmly be­lieved that the jelly he made was the best.

“So I put my tor­toise herbal jelly in a con­tainer of a fa­mous brand and let Wong try again. He then said the jelly was great, so I told him it is still my prod­uct — this time, he fi­nally agreed to part­ner up with me.”

Tse then opened Hung Fook Tung’s branch in Sham Shui Po in Novem­ber 1986.

In 1987 Tse opened two more Hung Fook Tung shops, with all of the stores sell­ing the tor­toise herbal jelly us­ing his own recipe.

“I didn’t keep a se­cret about the recipe. I taught my staff how to make it and sell them in all of our branches.”

Tse says that he be­lieves the most im­por­tant thing of run­ning a suc­cess­ful busi­ness is in­tegrity, as the chair­man or chief ex­ec­u­tive of a com­pany has to be hon­est with the share­hold­ers and cus­tomers.

He says that the share­hold­ers of Hung Fook Tung never have dis­putes about money, and no­body with­drew their in­vest­ment from the com­pany since the very early days of the firm as the com­pany’s man­age­ment is hon­est and ev­ery­one has a mu­tual trust.

Tse says that for young­sters who want to start a busi­ness, they need to be sure in them­selves first as start­ing a busi­ness is very dif­fi­cult.

“You have to work ex­tremely hard, and some­times you may fail, you just have to bear the blow of fail­ure. So be­fore you start to launch your own busi­ness, go into the in­dus­try, work from the bot­tom, so you could un­der­stand the busi­ness, the in­dus­try and your­self bet­ter.”


Don­ald Tse Po-tat, Hung Fook Tong’s chair­man and ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor, says the com­pany has con­tin­ued to in­no­vate and im­prove, in the past 30 years, from its prod­ucts to its de­sign and even its busi­ness strat­egy. He says the com­pany is con­stantly work­ing on new prod­ucts, and launches about 20 new prod­ucts ev­ery year. Don­ald Tse Po-tat, Hung Fook Tong’s chair­man and ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor

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