The largest publicly-listed Chinese fast food restaurant group in the world is mourning the death of its founder and first president.
Cafe de Coral Group announced Victor Lo Tang-seong died peacefully on 30 June, surrounded by his family. He was 101-years-old.
Nicknamed “Uncle Eight”, Lo was the eighth child born into his poor Hakka family in Guangdong in 1915. He later stayed with his brother in Hong Kong and studied at the secondary school Kings College with the support of an uncle.
War prompted Lo to train as a mechanic to repair US Flying Tigers fighters based in China to fight the Japanese. He sampled his first burger while in the US for further training after the war.
At 36, Lo joined his brother's Hong Kong Soya Bean Products Company, now Vitasoy, in the 1950s, but left the company to open the first Cafe de Coral restaurant in 1969.
It became the first publicly-listed company of its kind in Hong Kong in 1986.
The market leader has expanded, acquired and diversified to include other “fast-casual” restaurants Spaghetti House in 1991 and Oliver’s Super Sandwiches in 2003.
The group today employs 17,000 staff in more than 330 outlets in Hong Kong and about 120 outlets in mainland China, serving 300,000 customers every day.
Cafe de Coral chairman Sunny Lo Hoi-kwong, 60, said his father was a kind- hearted, open-minded, persevering and humorous man of integrity who will always be their role model.
Lo cared for staff and established a foundation to give their children tertiary education.
Despite a “challenging” financial year ending 31 March 2016 due to the weakening economy and market conditions, the group announced its revenue increased by 2.9% to HK$7.57 billion ($976 million) – 85% from its outlets in Hong Kong.
However, 2015-16 saw a 11.7% decline in net profit to HK$518 million ($66.7 million) due to falling profits from its outlets in China.