Cofounder of Chinese Hot Pot Chain Haidilao Resigns as CEO

Chinese hot pot restaurant chain Haidilao announced on Tuesday that its Deputy CEO and COO Yang Lijuan has now been named the new CEO, while Zhang Yong, Chairman of the Board and former CEO of the company, will continue to serve as Chairman of the Board and Executive Director.

The company said that as Yang has now been appointed CEO, she will be responsible for supervising the management and strategic development of the company, as well as the implementation and promotion of its “Woodpecker Project.” This appointment also serves as one of the main measures to strengthen the company’s internal governance structure.

In 2021, due to Haidilao’s rapid expansion and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, its operations failed to meet targets. On November 5, 2021, the company issued an announcement at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEx), saying that Yang was fully responsible for the so-called “Woodpecker Project.” In addition, the company affirmed it would continuously pay attention to locations exhibiting poor business performance, including overseas ones, and had taken measures for their integration. Tuesday’s announcement also showed that the internal management and operation of the company had been improved significantly since the implementation of this project.

According to sources, as the leader of the “Woodpecker Project,” Yang has always played an important role in the company’s operational management. Previously a waiter, she has worked at the company for 27 years and is a key figure for the company’s departure from its origins in Sichuan and the development of operations in the national market.

In addition, Li Yu now serves as the COO of the company for mainland China, while Wang Jinping was appointed as the company’s COO for Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and other overseas regions. As part of the firm’s core team, 36-year-old Li Yu and 38-year-old Wang Jinping will assist the CEO to improve the operational efficiency of the firm in different regions, and to strengthen its supervision and implementation.

On February 21, the company announced that it is expected to record a net loss of between 3.8 billion yuan ($601.9 million) and 4.5 billion yuan ($712.8 million) for the year ending December 31, 2021. According to the company, this was mainly due to the closure of more than 300 restaurants in 2021 and a decline in operating performance.

SEE ALSO: Haidilao Expects $600 Million Loss in 2021

In February 2021, the company’s share price reached a record high of HK$85.75 ($10.97) per share, and its total market value was once close to HK$470 billion. However, after these feats were accomplished, the figures began to decline sharply, and its current share price stands at just HK$17.88 with a market value of HK$99.663 billion.