Food
2016: No.38= - £100m
2015: No.35 - £102m

Gemma Field from Selly Oak has reason to be grateful to Chinese food supplier Woon Wing Yip . She scooped the coveted title of Wing Yip Oriental Cookery Young Chef of the Year.

This is the third year that Woon Wing Yip has sponsored the contest, launched to find up and coming young chefs with a flair for Pan Asian flavours. Gemma won a trip to Hong Kong after wowing the judges with her lobster and chicken crown poached in jasmine tea.

Back at his Chinese food business, profits dipped slightly, affected by a challenging business environment, exchange rate fluctuations and commodity price rises. As families tightened their belts, pre-tax profits at the Chinese food wholesaler dipped to £3.8 million in 2014 from £4.6 million the previous year.

However, turnover was up, topping £104.3 million compared with £96.8 million in 2013.

Nonetheless Woon Wing Yip OBE continues to invest. In the last two or three years he has spent around £5 million expanding his Nechells-based Chinese and oriental superstore and headquarters. The business now operates from more than 16 acres at its four sites and employs more than 350 people.

The Nechells site also includes a 30,000 sq ft warehouse, as well as the existing business centre, two restaurants and the Bank of East Asia.

Wing Yip now supplies more than 2,000 Chinese restaurants throughout the UK . His four major outlets in Birmingham, Manchester, Cricklewood and Croydon stock more than 4,500 oriental items.

The business, run by Wing Yip’s nephew Henry Yap, is expanding elsewhere, too, including a Chinese superstore in Nottingham.

The company has expanded its traditional Chinese food offering into a pan-Asian concept, covering the cuisine of Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

Wing Yip is passionate about education – he sees it as the secret of his own success - and has handed out hundreds of bursaries over the last 15 years to youngsters of Chinese descent to help them complete their education in the UK.

It was Woon Wing Yip’s ability to speak English when he came to the UK from Hong Kong more than 50 years ago that meant he could move up the ladder in business.

He is proud of the fact that his four children – Albert, Brian, Cindy and David - were all able to have a good education, thanks to their father’s success. All his children work in the business with the exception of Cindy who works for a television company in Hong Kong.

Woon Wing Yip, who is 76, arrived in the UK by boat from Hong Kong in 1959, taking a month to complete the journey. He had just £10 in his pocket. After working as a waiter he opened a restaurant in a former tea shop in Clacton-on-Sea and went on to open three more restaurants and two takeaways in East Anglia.

His first Chinese grocers shop opened in Digbeth, Birmingham in 1970, employing just 10 people. As well as selling Wing Yip branded products in his own supermarkets, they are also sold through national chains and there is a thriving online business.

The Wing Yip business has branched out into property development, management and investment through W Wing Yip and Brothers Property and Investment, with around 100 commercial and residential tenants around the country.

He also established the Wing Yip Charitable Trust in 1985, topped up by annual donations from the Wing Yip business, which supports the Prince’s Trust and also gives money to educational, poverty relief and sickness charities.