Haidilao and Tontine pair up in the hope spicy Sichuan food and sweet wine go down well with consumers

China Tontine Wines has joined forces with “hotpot king” Zhang Yong’s Haidilao International Holding to launch a customised sweet wine to complement the hotpot restaurant chain’s fiery Sichuan cuisine.

The product is available in an unspecified number of Haidilao restaurants, Jilin-province based Tontine said late on Wednesday.

Zhang, a naturalised Singaporean, last month displaced Philip and Robert Ng – who own property developer Far East Organisation and Hong Kong’s Sino Land – to become the city state’s richest man, according to Forbes.

“‘Haidilao semi-sparkling mountain grape wine’ is the first product the group has customised for a restaurant chain,” said Tontine’s chairman Wang Guangyuan.

China’s hotpot king Zhang Yong shoves aside real estate magnates as Singapore’s richest man

“[It] not only can provide a new revenue source for the group, but can also enhance consumers’ acceptance of grape wines, while further consolidating the brand awareness of Tontine Wines.”

The wine is made from Beibinghong grapes grown in the Yalu River Valley near the China-North Korea border where Tontine’s winery is based. It is in the same latitude as the renowned wine-growing regions of Rhone Valley in France and Napa Valley in California, US, according to the firm.

The Hong Kong-listed Tontine saw net profit tumble 63 per cent year on year to 6.7 million yuan (US$937,000) in the year’s first half. Revenue grew 2.7 per cent to 164.9 million yuan as it was forced to cut prices amid intense competition.

Haidilao operated 593 restaurants as of June – including 43 in Taiwan, Hong Kong and overseas, 74 per cent more than a year earlier. It opened on average five restaurants each week during the year’s first six months.

An early adopter of automation technology in the restaurant business, the firm has robot waiters in 179 restaurants, robotic arms for ingredients preparation in three and soup base preparation machines in three.

Beijing-based Haidilao last month posted a 40.9 per cent year on year rise in net profit to 911 million yuan for the year’s first six months, as revenue jumped 59.3 per cent to 11.7 billion yuan, despite the slowing Chinese economy because of the US-China trade war.

Listed almost a year ago in Hong Kong, its stock price has almost doubled to HK$35.45 from its initial public offering price of HK$17.8.

Haidilao, trading at 66.5 times its expected earnings per share for this year, is tipped by analysts to post a 40 per cent increase in net profit compared to last year.

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