On March 1, Chinese hotpot chain Haidilao issued an announcement on the appointment of management personnel. Zhang Yong stepped down as CEO of Haidilao and was succeeded by Yang Lijuan, a 43-year-old who is known as the “best waiter”. 

Yang Lijuan has worked in Haidilao for more than 27 years, starting from the most ordinary waitress to the manager of the first Haidilao store in Jianyang, and then out of Sichuan to explore the national market. She is a key figure in Haidilao. 

In 2018, Haidilao was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, which brought Yang Lijuan to the public eye. In May 2021, Yang Lijuan also ranked the top 50 of the “2021 Hurun Global Self-Made Rich Women List” with a fortune of 16 billion yuan. 

On the same day, Haidilao also announced that 36-year-old Li Yu and 38-year-old Wang Jinping will serve as the chief operating officer of Haidilao in mainland China and the chief operating officer of Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and overseas regions respectively. 

In 2021, due to the rapid expansion and the impact of the pandemic, the operation of Haidilao fell short of expectations. On November 5, 2021, Haidilao declared on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that it would progressively close around 300 stores that did not meet expectations by December 31, 2021. 

Haidilao’s net loss last year was about 3.8 billion to 4.5 billion yuan, becoming the company’s first annual loss since its listing.