Who is he? Colin Wong, Director and Co-Owner of the Aroma Group of restaurants. There are currently nine restaurants in the Group.
Eight Aroma Oriental buffet restaurants and Alisan restaurant.
Alisan opened in December 2006 and is their first à la carte restaurant, specialising in Cantonese cuisine and dim sum.
How did he get into the industry? "I had some friends in the industry. Bespoke Oriental buffet restaurants were almost unheard of around the mid-90s.
The idea to start one came to me in 1995."
How did he get started fi nancially? "With some savings, some help from my family and a loan from the NatWest Bank."
How much is he worth? "In November 2001, the group, which then consisted of four Aroma restaurants, with another two in the pipeline, was valued at £9m by an independent valuation fi rm. As a rough guesstimate, I would say Aroma is worth in the region of £15m or more now."
Best piece of business advice he's been given? "Never give up – given to me by my then wife."
Most important thing he's learnt? "Never to give up, and the harder I work, the luckier I get."
Biggest mistake he's ever made?
"Not going into the industry earlier in my life. If I did, I would probably own more restaurants now or have retired already."
Future plans? "The group has been opening one restaurant a year since the fi rst restaurant opened in 1997 (in Stevenage). Over the years, I have managed to reduce the average cost of opening by bringing project management inhouse.
Although there are no specifi c plans at the moment, there is always the intention to open more if the location is right. Good locations would be affl uent towns, such as Cambridge, Nottingham or Brighton. In any event, once Alisan is running at full steam, I would be looking at opening another Alisan."