The History of Wing Yip

Founder

The founder, Woon Wing Yip, was a Hakka born in Dongguan County, Guangdong, China in 1937. He arrived in the United Kingdom from Hong Kong in 1959 with £10. With an annual turnover of 80 million pounds, he became the first Chinese tycoon in the UK.


Wing Yip was honoured by Her Majesty The Queen on 10 March 2010 at an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace and awarded an OBE for his services to the Oriental food industry.


Wing Yip said "I was so surprised and feel very honoured, especially after coming here as an immigrant. I knew when I arrived in the UK that I wanted to be more than a waiter and quickly became head waiter, then opened my first restaurant with my business partners in Clacton in 1962. I would like to thank all my staff who have provided me with their support and dedication and made the success of Wing Yip possible.”

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Chronology

  • 1959 – Wing Yip arrives in England by boat from Hong Kong.

  • 1960s – Wing Yip opens a restaurant with partners in a former tea shop in Clacton-on-Sea. This is quickly followed by a further three restaurants and two take-aways in the East Anglia region. In 1968, he is joined by his brother, Sammy Yap who worked in the hotel trade in Hong Kong.

  • 1970 – Wing Yip and his brother Sammy open a specialist Chinese grocery in Digbeth, Birmingham, supplying more than 1,000 genuine Chinese products to restaurants and takeaways as well as to Chinese families in and around Birmingham. This first Wing Yip store in Digbeth employs fewer than ten people and quickly gains a following in the Chinese community and with those interested in Chinese cooking.

  • 1975 – After five years of trading, the business moves to larger premises in nearby Coventry Street where it is to be based for the next 17 years. The new site offers car parking for customers and attracts Chinese business tenants including a travel agent.

  • 1977 – Lee Sing Yap joins his brothers Wing Yip and Sammy. Together they open a Manchester store on Faulkner Street in Manchester's Chinatown area which enjoys a thriving restaurant scene.

  • 1978 – A second Manchester store opens on Addington Street. This larger site based outside the city centre provides free car parking and other facilities to meet the demands of restaurant and takeaway owners.

  • 1986 – The brothers buy and develop a 2.24-acre (9,100 m2) site on Oldham Road – Manchester on the edge of the city centre. The Manchester operations are brought together at the new premises.

  • 1988 – The first London store opens in Cricklewood on Edgware Road (A5 next to Junction 1 of the M1). Following the success of the Birmingham and Manchester stores, demand grows from customers based in and around the Greater London area for a store in the south of the country.

  • 1992 – The Birmingham business moves from Coventry Street to large modern premises in Nechells in Birmingham. The site together with its associated Wing Yip Business Centre attracts tenants such as solicitors, a doctor and accountants who use it as a base to serve the Chinese community.

  • 1995 – The Wing Yip Brand of sauces launches to enable caterers and food manufacturers to create authentic Chinese meals with the flavour profile of the finest Chinese restaurants and takeaways. A retail range is also launched.

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Wing Yip Manchester Superstore

  • 1995 – The second London store opens in Croydon on Purley Way (A23). The site incorporates its own Business Centre with Chinese and Malaysian restaurants as well as other Chinese businesses. The site becomes a local landmark with its Oriental design and wins a Croydon Design Award for its architecture and Chinese Arch.

  • 1996 – The Birmingham site grows to 7 acres (2.8 ha) with the purchase and development of further land including a public road. The additional land is developed to include a large modern central distribution warehouse and an Oriental-style Business Centre with a range of Chinese businesses including two fine restaurants, a bank, lawyers and accountants. The landmark Chinese Arch with handmade tiles from China is erected.

  • 1998 – Wing Yip and his brothers donate a 40-foot (12 m) granite pagoda to the City of Birmingham in thanks to the city and its people for providing a home for them and their families and for the city's support over the years. The pagoda which was hand-carved in China is erected at Holloway Circus close to Birmingham's Chinese Quarter.

  • 2003 – The Manchester site is redeveloped to provide a truly Oriental setting for customers, with an enlarged cash and carry store and a new Business Centre incorporating a successful Chinese restaurant, a branch of HSBC and other tenants.

  • 2004 – Wing Yip's online shopping site launches primarily to serve UK consumers and orders are received from Europe and as far away as Australia. The site includes recipes, cooking and dining information as well as cultural sections. The Wing Yip range of sauces finds favour with visitors to the BBC Good Food Show at the NEC.

  • 2005 – The Wing Yip exhibit at the International Food Exhibition at Exel in London and tastings of the sauces prove extremely popular with visitors. The redevelopment of the Cricklewood site begins. The project will see the building of a new enlarged cash and carry store open to the trade and the public with underground parking, a Business Centre including a Chinese restaurant together with an office building all in an Oriental style. Cricklewood location.

  • 2008 – Mr Wing Yip was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Birmingham City University

  • 2010 – Wing Yip scoops Lifetime Achievement award

  • 2010 – Mr Wing Yip – OBE

  • 2013 – The Birmingham site undergoes an extensive redevelopment and refurbishment increasing the site to 10 acres

  • 2016 Feb – Death of Sammy Yap

  • Today – Wing Yip continues to exhibit at popular shows. The Wing Yip Group now operates from four freehold sites covering 16.3 acres (6.6 ha) and employs 300 staff. Other strategic sites in the UK have been proposed and new stores are to be built.