Woon is a Chinese-born British entrepreneur, best known for having started the Wing Yip supermarket chain. His Chinese and oriental superstores now supply more than 2000 Chinese restaurants throughout the UK. His outlets employ well over 300 people.
A Hakka born in Dongguan, Guangdong in 1940, Yip arrived in Birmingham, United Kingdom from Hong Kong in 1959 with 10 pounds at the age of 19. He then worked and later started his own restaurants in the East Anglia region of England, in towns such as Clacton and Ipswich.
With the ability to speak English, he founded the Wing Yip supermarket in United Kingdom. The Wing Yip business has also branched out into property development, management and investment, with more than 60 commercial and residential tenants around the country. The property portfolio is worth around £23 million. With an annual turnover of 80 million pounds, he became the first Anglo-Chinese tycoon in United Kingdom.
Wing Yip have been supplying Chinese Restaurants and Takeaways, the Chinese community and food enthusiasts with Chinese groceries and other authentic products for more than 40 years.
Yip is also a philanthropist who has among other acts of generosity, endowed several bursaries and scholarships for university students from both the UK and China, administered through the W Wing Yip and Brothers Charitable Trust. He is passionate about education – he sees it as the secret of his own success.
In 2008 Yip was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Birmingham City University.
He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2010 New Year Honour. One receiving the honor, Woon said, in his truly humble style; “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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Woon Wing Yip’s first Chinese grocers shop opened in Digbeth, Birmingham in 1970, employing just 10 people. Now his food empire turns over more than £100 million a year, employs 400 people and supplies more than 2000 restaurants nationwide.