A company founded by a former Miss Hong Kong is poised for a stock market listing in the city this year.
I am talking about Cookies Quartet Holdings, which sells decorated cookies and signature butterfly crisps and is co-owned by ex-beauty queen Charlene Tse Ling.
Charlene, also known as Shallin, who won the Miss Hong Kong title in 1985, is seeking to take her cookies operation to the next level after founding it in 2008 along with some partners.
The company has applied for a listing in a bid to raise funds for business expansion.
Tse will be the second former beauty queen to raise capital from the local stock market, following in the footsteps of Erica Yuen Mi-ming.
In 2017, Yuen, who was one of the top five finalists in the 2005 Miss Hong Kong pageant, listed her retail beauty shop Mi Ming Mart on the Growth Enterprise Market.
Talking about Tse, the cookies queen did not have a Cinderella life after winning her title 33 years ago.
After becoming Miss Hong Kong, Tse got the chance to be an actress but she didn’t quite enjoy the job.
She got married to movie producer John Shum and emigrated to Toronto, where I got to know her in person.
The marriage, however, ended in divorce in 2005. Three years after that, Tse launched a cookies business in Hong Kong along with two partners, in a bid to support herself financially.
I remember seeing her many times at her Kowloon City store, always busy as she would pack pastries and cookies for her customers.
Cookies turned out to be a profitable business. Tse’s firm is expected to rake in nearly HK$25 million this year on turnover of around HK$80 million.
Her signature butterfly palmier accounted for 63 percent of sales last year, with the gross margin in excess of 70 percent.
The capital raising exercise would allow Tse to acquire additional baking facilities in San Po Kong and an office in Sai Ying Pun.
The celebrity effect, particularly the Miss Hong Kong halo, on a listing candidate cannot be under-estimated.
Twenty years ago, Luk Fook Holdings engaged Pauline Yeung, Miss Hong Kong 1987, as a spokesperson.
After that, the jewelry retailer quickly became one of the hottest picks on the stock market, while also getting a major boost from the 2003 Individual Visit Scheme that allowed travellers from Mainland China to visit Hong Kong and Macau on an individual basis.
When Cookies Quartet launches its IPO, there is good reason to expect quite a tasty treat.
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