Chairman's Message

This year marks a major milestone in Café de Coral’s business: our 50th anniversary. Over the past half century, the Group has experienced both successes and challenges – and applied these lessons and knowledge to create a robust, front-running organisation that is sensitive to our customers and focused on innovation.

Café de Coral was born under a very different business environment. The relative weighting of our three major cost bases – rent, labour and food – has shifted tremendously over the years. Although the market has changed, the Group has continuously strengthened the business by maintaining focus on three constantly changing areas: our people, our operating model and our customer experience.

Over the past 50 years, Café de Coral has grown together with Hong Kong. From a single, local brand, we have grown into a multi-geography, multi brand business. This drive and enthusiasm has fuelled the Group to become a leader in quick service restaurants with Café de Coral fast food and Super Super Congee & Noodles, a leader in institutional catering with Asia Pacific Catering, and a leading provider of school lunches in Hong Kong through Luncheon Star.

I truly believe that the Group’s long-lasting success has come from building on the past to create the future. Growing from strength to strength, we have managed to gain leadership positions in each new market by focusing on the fundamentals of each business, and delivering to the highest standards.

FIVE DECADES OF LEARNING, INNOVATION AND LEADERSHIP

As an organisation, Café de Coral has always believed in trying new things. This willingness to grow and adapt has kept our business relevant to the market, while continuing to appeal to the “everyman” consumers who make up our core target audience. Dedicated to sustainable, positive growth, the Group has consistently applied the knowledge gained from each new venture to enhance our core strengths and grow the business even further.

An example of this would be the Group’s early efforts in international expansion. Opening our first restaurant in Singapore in 1982 gave us the opportunity to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the business in a new environment. Taking these lessons to heart, we applied our findings to our business in Hong Kong – which allowed us to take our local operations to the next level by listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1986.

Another example of this learning ability is our multi-brand strategy. After our listing, the Group built on its strength in restaurants to extend into institutional catering. While initially difficult, we persevered to become Hong Kong’s leading institutional catering operator today – working with hospitals, universities and many other organisations across the city. We replicated this success in school catering, and have now turned our focus to casual dining. In this area, our homegrown Shanghai Lao Lao and Mixian Sense brands stand as testament to the Group’s ability to introduce new and exciting concepts that have been warmly received by the local market – and create strong prospects for the future of the business.

I believe the strongest proof of the Group’s adaptability lies in our expansion into the Mainland China market. Our first steps into the market in 1991 saw an ambitious effort to open around 20 stores in Guangdong, Shanghai and Beijing. However, the market was not ready at the time, and we made the timely decision to pull back. Sensing the further development of the market, we re-entered the market in 2003 and focused our efforts on growth. Building on strategic insights and operating experience in the market, we identified our strengths and positioning to focus on the South China market. Today, with a strong local management team catering to consumers’ specific tastes, the Greater Bay Area has become one of the most dynamic areas of the business – and is a pillar of the Group’s continuing success.

FUTURE HORIZONS

Looking forward to the next 50 years, I believe the Group will continue to build its success on the key strategies that have made our business what it is today. We are upgrading the customer journey to stay current with consumer preferences, and to match our cost structure and operating environment. We continue to invest in our people, motivating them to provide the best possible service to our customers. And we are applying new technology to create seamless, integrated success across all areas of our business.

I am confident the management team is focusing on all of these factors, ensuring the business is attractive and relevant to new generations of consumers in a constantly changing and increasingly competitive business environment.

One of Café de Coral’s unique strengths lies in the smooth succession of our management team over the past 50 years – from the founding team created by my father; to the second generation led by myself, our former Chairman Michael Chan and my sister Anita Lo; to the current leadership in the experienced hands of CEO Peter Lo. While retaining the soul of the business by promoting from within, we have also broadened and enhanced our management team with key external hires to bring new professional skills and fresh blood into our operations. Today, as Chairman, my role is to provide guidance, while giving the team the freedom to explore and focus on big-picture issues – paving the way towards many more decades of success.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

In closing, I must thank our staff for the loyalty, commitment and hard work; our investors for their support for our constantly growing business; and our customers for growing together with Café de Coral over the past five decades. Together, I am confident in the Group’s success over the next 50 years… and beyond.

Lo Hoi Kwong, Sunny
Chairman

Hong Kong, 22 June 2018

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