Eu Yan Sang boss steps down after 28 years

Mr Richard Eu is not retiring after stepping down as CEO of Eu Yan Sang International. He will replace his cousin Robert Eu as non-executive chairman of the board.
Mr Richard Eu is not retiring after stepping down as CEO of Eu Yan Sang International. He will replace his cousin Robert Eu as non-executive chairman of the board. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The boss of Eu Yan Sang International is stepping down after 28 years at the helm of the traditional Chinese medicine giant.

Mr Richard Eu, who turns 70 in October, is handing the reins to new hire Aaron Boey on Oct 1, marking the first time that leadership of the 138-year-old institution will be placed in outside hands.

Mr Eu told The Straits Times on Friday (July 7): "It's very important and it's about time. This whole succession issue is something we've been talking about for at least 10 years. I'm glad it's happened now. I don't want to drop dead on the job... I want to enjoy some other stuff."

Mr Boey joined Eu Yan Sang in March, filling the role of chief operating officer after the previous one left.

Mr Eu said: "We managed to get Aaron to fill in, and it was meant to be on a term basis, for six months or one year. At the same time, we were going through a CEO search and after he'd been here for one to two months, we decided he was good CEO material and decided to put his hat in the pool, and everyone liked him."

Mr Boey, 56, has worked for large consumer products firms such as Asia Pacific Breweries and Philips Consumer Electronics. Most recently, he was the executive vice-president and president of Asia-Pacific for Levi Strauss & Co.

Mr Eu is not retiring. He will replace his cousin Robert Eu as non-executive chairman of the board, while Mr Robert Eu will remain as a board director.

Mr Richard Eu said: "Because Aaron is new, I will help him by providing him with a corporate memory, but I don't want to have such a large shadow that it makes life difficult for him."

Today, the Eu family has a 23.8 per cent stake in Eu Yan Sang after launching a bid, alongside new partners Tower Capital and a unit of Temasek Holdings, to privatise the company in May last year.

Succession planning was part of the deal terms with the new shareholders, said Mr Eu.

Mr Eu is a fourth-generation Eu. His grandfather was tycoon and philanthropist Eu Tong Sen.

Eu Yan Sang was founded by Mr Richard Eu's great-grandfather Eu Kong and the family's fifth generation are still in the business.

Mr Richard Eu's eldest son Richie joined the company four years ago and now heads its retail business in Hong Kong. His niece Jessica is a product category manager. They are both 32.