Chairman and founder, Haidilao International Holding
The billionaire restaurateur and Sichuan hot-pot king founded the Haidilao food chain
Haidilao chairman and founder Zhang Yong is a living example of self-belief and determination. With his wife Shu Ping, co-founder and director of the hot-pot chain, and some friends, he established the spicy soup establishment as one of the most popular restaurant chains in the world, despite not knowing how to cook.
Zhang started Haidilao after he reportedly endured a terrible meal and rude staff in a hot-pot restaurant. Convinced he could do better, he borrowed money from three friends, including Shu, to start his own business. Launching with a four-table eatery in 1994, the brand focused on excellent customer service and discounts, as Zhang, in his own words, “did not know how to cook hot pot well”. Fast-forward to 2021, and Haidilao now manages 1,443 restaurants around the world, with about 93 per cent of its revenue coming from mainland China.
In 2022, Zhang stepped down as chief executive while retaining his chairmanship. Later that year, the company announced that it was spinning off Super Hi International, its overseas unit, into a separate listing on the Hong Kong bourse.
Zhang and Shu have a combined net worth of about US$14 billion, making them two of Singapore’s richest people. The China-born entrepreneurs became naturalised Singapore citizens in 2018.
Did You Know?
Hot pot originated in Mongolia around a millennium ago during the Jin dynasty, when a basic version of the dish was cooked in horsemen’s upturned helmets.