BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A steamed-bun shop in Beijing that made headlines when Chinese President Xi Jinping tasted its offerings in a surprise visit in 2013 is planning to go public next year.
Qing Feng Steamed Dumpling Shop plans to float the company on the New Third Board, the pilot trading platform for small and medium-sized enterprises in China, as the traditional brand aims for rapid expansion.
"If everything goes well, Qing Feng will be publicly traded as early as next March or April," said Ms Gao Wenhui, general manager of the shop.
Ms Gao said Qing Feng will go public through a reverse merger, because the steamed-bun shop is a purely state-owned company. If the company wants to get listed directly, it should first be restructured into a shareholding enterprise and then operate for at least two years before being listed.
"To expedite the process, which may take three years, we plan to do a backdoor listing by injecting our assets into a joint enterprise owned by our parent company Huatian, and rebrand the name after the shell corporation gets listed," she said.
Mr Zhang Liang, a senior analyst at Guangzhou-based research agency Huashang College, said Qing Feng holds substantial appeal to investors.
"Qing Feng is a well-established player in the middle-end culinary sector. Its fast growth and 100 per cent state-owned identity will lure a number of investors," he said.
Far more food companies are listed in the United States compared with China, where there are fewer than 20 listed companies, Mr Zhang noted.
"More Chinese culinary companies should have gone public because they often boast stable profits or see steady growth," he added.
The listing plan comes amid the company's intensified efforts to expand business in China. "By 2020, we will have 1,000 outlets nationwide, with 80 per cent of them run by franchisees," Ms Gao said.
Currently, the traditional brand operates over 300 outlets, with 262 of them scattered around Beijing.
"This is an ambitious yet possible target," said Mr Zhu Dan, an analyst at Beijing-based Chinese Food Research Centre.
"With the increasing consumption power of Chinese people and its growing popularity, boosted by President Xi's visit, it is time for well-grounded Qing Feng to shine."
Qing Feng was put under the spotlight when Mr Xi visited its branch on Yuetan North Street in Beijing on Dec 28, 2013, which drew a large crowd.
Since then, many diners wait in line and opt for the set meal that Mr Xi ordered - six traditional steamed dumplings and some vegetables.