Hotpot Chain Haidilao Rolls out Succession Plan as Founder Prepares to Retire Within Next 15 Years

Chinese hotpot chain Haidilao has launched a scoring system for its employees to select a successor to the chairman and founder of the company Zhang Yong, who announced plans to retire within the next 15 years.

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By rolling out the scoring system, Haidilao is fostering talent within the company. The succession opportunity is available to everyone except chairman Zhang Yong’s co-founders Shi Yonghong, Gou Yiqun and Yang Xiaoli, according an internal letter on Tuesday.

Haidilao imposed a “wage ceiling” on its senior managers last October ensuring that their incomes are controlled within fixed margins. The only two ways to earn a higher wage are to take on additional tasks on the finance, technology and procurement and other directions, or to start building a business within the company.

“Every time you take on a new duty, Haidilao will give you points,” Zhang said in the letter. “Everytime we need to promote a manager, the company will select among the people with the most points. The more points you have, the more capable you are of working at Haidilao.”

Founded in China’s Sichuan Province in 1994, Haidilao expanded from a small shop selling malatang (popular street food relative of hotpot) to a vast chain of hotpot restaurants with more than 590 stores in China. Started from a privately held company, Haidilao filed for an IPO in Hong Kong in 2018, aiming to raise up to $700 million for further expansion. The company reported a 56.5 percent year-on-year increase in 2019 revenue to 26.6 billion yuan ($324.5 million), according to its annual earnings report.