money-glitz | Tracy Hu 5 Feb 2018

Tracy Hu

Listing candidate JIA Group Holdings, backed by many of the second-generation members of Hong Kong tycoons, opened its retail book last Monday to raise HK$64.5 million by issuing 215 million shares at 30 HK cents per share.

Chairperson Yenn Wong Pui-yain says it plans to use 56.5 percent of the HK$13.6 million net proceeds to open new restaurants including one at Tai Kwun, the former Central Police Station Compound, which can commence operation in the first half. Assuming average spending of each customer to be HK$300, she believes it will break even in four months.

JIA Group will also open another restaurant, targeting at young professionals for happy-hour consumption, in the third quarter.

Wong says six out of its 10 restaurants have not recorded a profit, but she believes they will begin to turn around in the coming years. The restaurants will rein in expenditure, she says. The group recorded a net loss in 2016 and for the seven months ended July 2017.

The restaurant group will debut on the Growth Enterprise Market on February 8.

Founded and chaired by Wong, who is the daughter-in-law of Gold Peak Industries (0040) chairman Victor Lo Chung-wing, the group has brought in many wealthy second-generation celebrities as shareholders.

Wong holds roughly 60 percent of the group and will remain the controlling shareholder following the public float. Another controlling shareholding company, Giant Mind, which is currently 89.8 percent owned by Wong and 10.2 percent owned by her sister-in-law Grace Lo Kit-yee, will be fully-owned by Wong after a share repurchase, post-listing.

Wong, 39, earned some prominence when she opened Hong Kong's first designer boutique hotel J Plus in Causeway Bay when she was just 25. After that, she entered the restaurant sector in Singapore and Shanghai. She opened her first restaurant in her hometown Singapore in 2006.

One of her business partners is her restaurateur husband Alan Lo Yeung-kit. The couple and another shareholder Paulo Pong Kin-yee, grandson of local steel magnate Pong Ding-yuen and son-in-law of New World Development (0017) chairman Henry Cheng Kar-shun, jointly set up Duddell's in 2013.

Duddell's, the flagship of JIA Group, was awarded a Michelin Star in 2014 shortly after its opening in May 2013. It was elevated to two Michelin Star status in 2015, 2016 and 2017, according to the Michelin Guide Hong Kong and Macau.

Pong, a red wine lover, established the boutique wholesale wine merchant Altaya Wines in 2001, instead of taking over his family business, Hong Kong's sole steel rolling mill manufacturer, Shiu Wing Steel.

Stanley Sun Tao-hung, grandson of the founder of China-Hongkong Photo Products Holdings (1123), and Darrin Woo, nephew of Henry Wu King-cheong are also shareholders of the company. Wu is former president of the Chinese Gold and Silver Exchange Society.

Meanwhile, Classified Group (8232), founded by Wong's husband Lo and Pong, was listed in June 2016.

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