Hot­pot gi­ant Haidi­lao set to en­ter Hong Kong soon

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By LUO WEITENG in Hong Kong sophia@chi­nadai­

Hot­pot chain Sichuan Haidi­lao Cater­ing Co is said to be mak­ing in­roads into Hong Kong, join­ing a clus­ter of main­land coun­ter­parts whose busi­ness in Hong Kong has been che­quered.

Ed­win Leong Siu-hung, founder of Tai Hung Fai En­ter­prise and one of Hong Kong’s l argest re­tail land­lords, con­firmed that one of his com­pany’s prop­er­ties in Mong Kok had been leased to Haidi­lao and could be dec­o­rated within two months at the soon­est.

The Bei­jing-based res­tau­rant op­er­a­tor also con­firmed the news. It said that if every­thing goes ac­cord­ing to plan, the com­pany’s first res­tau­rant in Hong Kong will open three months later.

Re­ports of Haidi­lao’s expansion and ini­tial pub­lic of­fer­ing have been cir­cu­lat­ing since the end of 2015. Yi­hai In­ter­na­tional Hold­ing Ltd, a hotspot sea­son­ings pro­ducer and Haidi­lao’s ex­clu­sive sup­plier, was al­ready a few steps ahead of it, hav­ing raised HK$861 mil­lion ($110 mil­lion) on the Hong Kong Stock Ex­change in July.

Haidi­lao would fol­low in the foot­steps of ri­val hot­pot chains such as Lit­tle Sheep, Sim­mer Huang and Xiao Yu Hot­pot Res­tau­rant in Hong Kong, a mar­ket the com­pany said it bets big on.

Those early com­ers, how­ever, failed to get very far in the Hong Kong mar­ket. In­ner Mongolia-based Lit­tle Sheep, which has op­er­ated in Hong Kong for more than a decade, only has one of the six res­tau­rants it ini­tially opened.

Like­wise, hav­ing en­tered Hong Kong no more than two years ago, Sim­mer Huang shut its one and only res­tau­rant in Hong Kong at the end of last year.

“As for Haidi­lao, this may be a good tim­ing to en­ter the Hong Kong mar­ket, where the com­mer­cial rental mar­ket has been un­der sus­tained down­ward pres­sure for quite a time and is show­ing signs of hit­ting bot­tom,” said Han­nah Li Wai-han, a strate­gist at UOB Kay Hian (Hong Kong).

The hotspot chain will pay a monthly rent of HK$550,000 for the three­storey store.

Founded in 1994, Haidi­lao is known for its spicy Sichuan-style food and im­pres­sive cus­tomer ser­vices, which in­clude free man­i­cure, shoe pol­ish­ing and shoul­der mas­sage ser­vices, as well as noo­dle-pulling shows and dance per­for­mances.

The res­tau­rant chain now op­er­ates 168 out­lets across 51 cities in Chi­nese main­land and has set up nine branches in Sin­ga­pore, Los An­ge­les, Seoul and Tokyo.

num­ber of res­tau­rants op­er­ated by hot­pot chain Haidi­lao on the Chi­nese main­land

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