China’s largest hotpot restaurant chain, Haidilao, announced its founder Zhang Yong has stepped back from his role as CEO to concentrate on long-term strategy planning, reports Reuters. The move, which comes amid efforts by Haidilao to slash store numbers, has seen Yang Lijuan, 43, formerly deputy CEO and chief operating officer, take the helm as of March 1. Li Yu, 36, was named COO of its mainland China operations while Wang Jinping, 38, was appointed COO of its operations in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and overseas.
Citi analysts said in a research note the appointments underlined the company’s commitment to overhauling management “via bringing forward its senior management transition to accommodate its aggressive store restructuring plan.”
Haidilao expanded store numbers aggressively in early 2020 but has since seen declines in table turnover rates and earnings. In November, it announced it would close 300 stores.