Haidi Lao - Sichuan hotpot chain

January 20, 2021

Haidilao is China’s biggest Sichuan hotpot chain which has gone global since 2013 when it opened its first overseas restaurant at Clarke Quay, Singapore. Then it entered the US market in the same year in Los Angeles. By end of June 2020 Haidilao has 935 restaurants in China, Singapore, USA, S. Korea, Japan, Canada, the UK, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Australia with sales surpassing US$17 billion according to Forbes. Haidi means “bottom of the sea” and “lao” means to “scoop up” giving the idea of scooping up lovely food from the quadrangle of different varieties of boiling hot stocks. 

Founder, Zhang Yong, 50, started his first restaurant venture in 1994 with loans from three friends, one of whom is his wife. All are billionaires since Haidilao International Holding Ltd’s  US$963 million IPO in September 2018. Zhang Yong and his family left China in the 2010s to take up residence in Singapore and became naturalised citizens of the city state. The move received adverse publicity in his home country. 

Haidilao came to Malaysia in 2017 with its first restaurant at Sunway Pyramid Hotel. It has since expanded to 5 restaurants (Sunway Pyramid, Pavillion Kuala Lumpur, 1 Utama Shopping Centre, Sunway Velocity Mall, Gurney Parago Penang) with a 6th to be opened soon in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

But what is the great attraction to Haidilao? It has a 13 soup stocks and 8 types of dipping sauces to choose from which is quite a feat for any hotpot restaurant. But besides the cuisine that is offered, the crowds who have to queue up are served with a range of snacks and even desserts to enjoy and manicure services are free to keep ladies occupied. This is quite an experience for Malaysians.  

There is no mention of Haidilao being a franchised operation in its website. The way Zhang Yong does it so far is to empower its employees with incentives to do well and be rewarded accordingly. Seems to have worked so far.  

Read more 

  1. https://www.haidilao.com/sg/ 
  2. www.haidilao.com. Haidi Lao. Our story. https://www.haidilao.com/en/gyhdl/ppgs/index.html 
  3. Malaysia’s first Hai Di Lao outlet opens. 28 March 2019. https://www.rli.uk.com/malaysias-first-hai-di-lao-outlet-opens/ 
  4. 10 Facts About Haidilao Founder Zhang Yong, The Richest Man In S’pore. https://mustsharenews.com/haidilao-zhang-yong/ 
  5. Forbes. Zhang Yong.$25.6B as at 6 January 2021. https://www.forbes.com/profile/zhang-yong-1/?sh=5c5b44a150f7 
  6. South China Morning Post. 13 September 2019. David Ho. How did hotpot billionaire Zhang Yong hit the jackpot as Singapore’s richest person? https://www.scmp.com/magazines/style/news-trends/article/3027049/how-did-hotpot-billionaire-zhang-yong-hit-jackpot 
  7. Business Insider Singapore. 25 January 2020. Rachel Genevieve Chia. How Singapore's richest man went from welding in a factory for $14 per hour to owning a $17 billion hotpot restaurant chain. https://www.businessinsider.com/life-of-singapore-richest-man-from-welder-to-hotpot-billionaire-2020-1