KINGS OF BRITAIN
By Lopa Patel (April 2008)
the UK ethnic foods market (including rice) worth £1.38bn
at retail selling prices in 2006 and curry taking a major chunk
of this sector, just who are the real "curry kings" in
Britain today? The fastest growing sector within ethnic foods is
convenience meals, ready meals and microwaveable dishes so perhaps
the most well known curry king, therefore, is Sir Gulam Noon (G
K Noon) of Noon Products, that specialises in just such meals for
is followed closely by Kirit Pathak of Patak's sauces and pickles
business (now owned by Galen Weston's Associated British Foods).
Few realise the impact of the cash and carry businesses on the ethnic
foods market, so my list of curry kings continues with Sir Anwar
Pervez of Bestway Cash & Carry and the sons of Taherally Rehmanji
Suterwalla of TRS, followed closely by Moni Varma of Veetee Rice.
SIR G K NOON
Kaderbhoy Noon - better known as G K Noon- took over his family
sweet business in Rajasthan, India, before moving to the UK and
expanding the cottage industry into a multi-million pound food business,
Noon Products Ltd. From two factories in Southall, West London,
Noon Products now produces more than three million Indian meals
Products Ltd started as a family business in 1989 with a range of
just four products. Today they manufacture over 250 different chilled
and frozen ready meals, predominantly under supermarkets' own brand
ranges. From premises of 6,000 sq ft Noon Products Ltd started at
a time when ethnic cuisine was just beginning to emerge, with a
handful of loyal colleagues who were totally committed to this venture.
the intervening years, Noon Products has grown at an enormous rate
despite a huge set back in 1994 when a fire destroyed the original
factory. Noon Products was able to recommence supply in just 21
days, bringing forward the opening of the new site at Collett Way.
In order to meet demand for more capacity a second site was opened
on the same industrial estate in 1998. A third factory in Windmill
Lane was opened in 2003 and, in the same year, Marston Valley Foods
was acquired and its operation transferred to the new site.
2005, Noon Products was acquired by Kerry Foods for £124million.
Noon Products currently employs in the region of 900 employees and
sells to major supermarket brands like Sainsburys and Waitrose and
it also has licences to use the 'Bombay Brasserie' and 'Quilon'
brands for its premium range offerings.
Products Ltd, Windmill Lane, Southall, Middlesex UB2 4NA. T: 0208
571 1866, F: 020 85712672, e: email@example.com, www.noon.co.uk
was founded by Kirit Pathak's father Laxmishanker Pathak in 1957.
He arrived in Britain from Kenya with £5 and a life insurance
policy and started selling samosas from his London kitchen. Today
Patak's makes Indian foods, including curry pastes, pickles and
pappadums. Employing 700 people, it produces 30million jars of sauces,
1.5 million ready meals, 1 million snacks and 2,700 tonnes of spice
each year. Patak's also supplies three quarters of Britain's Indian
Pathak and his wife Meena, whom he met in 1976 on a buying trip
to India, took over the business and continued to run it until its
sale to Associated British Foods (ABF) in 2007. ABF have retained
their services: Kirit will be chairman of AB Foods' new world foods
division and Meena Pathak will be a director. She approves every
Patak's recipe and helps develop 20 new recipes every year.
sale to ABF takes Kirit Pathak from running a business with a £66m
turnover (2006) to one with sales of between £150m and £200m
per annum. ABF is estimated to have paid £120 million for
the Patak's business, although the exact sum paid was kept "under
wraps" following a bitter feud between Kirit and his sisters
over the ownership of the 40-year old company. The sisters alleged
they were cheated out of shares left to them by their father. The
matter was eventually resolved with an out-of-court settlement of
an estimated £8 million in October 2004.
Foods Ltd, Kiribati Way, Leigh, Lancashire, WN7 5RS
Tel: 01942 267 000, Fax: 01942 267 070, www.pataks.co.uk
in a small town near Rawalpindi, Pakistan in 1935, Sir Anwar Pervez
came to England in 1956, aged 21. He became a bus conductor in Bradford
before opening his first mini supermarket, Kashmir, in London's
Earls Court in 1963. He pioneered the availability of halal meat
and other halal food products. This visionary step brought instant
recognition from the Pakistani and Muslim community throughout West
London. By the early seventies he had ten mini supermarkets in and
around West London. Their mission was to offer convenience at an
launched Bestway Holdings, a cash-and-carry firm in 1976. At the
time wholesalers were making about 10% gross profit. Sir Anwar thought
that he could manage with 4% and pass the saving on to whomever
he supplied - allowing them to pass the saving on to their customers.
It worked. By the mid-eighties Bestway had six warehouses.
according to The Sunday Times Rich List, he (with his family) is
worth an estimated £543 million. Moreover, Bestway does not
look as if it is losing its lustre. Net margins for the cash-and-carry
business are still thin - 1.5% - but group profits were up 27%,
from £57.2 million to £73 million in 2005 to 2006, on
an annual turnover up 26 % from £1.35 billion to £1.7
billion over the same period.
Bestway Group, Abbey Rd, Park Royal, London NW10 7BW Tel: +44(0)20
8453 1234 Fax: +44(0)20 8965 0359
REHMANJI SUTERWALLA (T R S)
Suterwalla and Sons Ltd was founded in 1959 by Mr Taherally Rehmanji
Suterwalla - hence the brand name 'TRS' - at a time when it was
extremely difficult to find authentic Asian food ingredients. Recognising
this drawback to culinary diversity, Mr Suterwalla set out, quite
literally, on a voyage of discovery to source and ship the finest
ethnic food products from around the world.
increase in popularity of Asian foods has resulted in continuous
growth for the TRS Group. Today, TRS is a leading ethnic food brand,
its label is found in supermarkets and grocery outlets throughout
the UK - and further distributed throughout the European Union,
Russia, Canada and the USA. TRS provides a full range for catering
establishments including mango chutney, pickles, papadums, red split
lentils, gram flour and a host of whole and ground spices and exotic
well as ethnic food distribution, the TRS Group run a leading cash
and carry operation in London. There are two warehouses; Southall
in West London and Leyton in North London. The Cash & Carry
business turnover for 2006 was £42 million with an average
4.6% margin resulting in a £1.89 million profit before tax.
The TRS International Foods business retains a margin of 3.69% profit
on a turnover for £50 million for 2006 according published
commitment to quality, a willingness to travel the world in search
of authentic products and a close family connection, are all virtues
laid down by the founder. These philosophies continue and are carried
forward in the day-to-day management of the business by Mr T.R.
Suterwalla's five sons Iqbal, Siraj, Fakhruddin, Hatim and Mansoor
who manage all corporate affairs for the company.
Southbridge Way, The Green, Southall , Middlesex UB2 4AX UK
Tel: +44 (0)20 8843 5400 - Fax: +44 (0)20 8574 1716 and +44 (0)20
8574 5254, e: firstname.lastname@example.org - Website: www.trs.co.uk
Varma (58), Chairman of Veetee Rice, grew up in the former Federation
Rhodesia & Nysaland, in the area that later became Malawi. He
is the youngest of eight children born to Indian parents, both from
business families. After completing his schooling, Moni headed to
India to continue his studies, but returned to Malawi soon after
and started his professional life as a salesman for a printing firm.
afterwards, Moni invested £300 in a small machine to manufacture
barbed wire, building the company into a success that saw it taken
over by the then President of Malawi, Hastings Banda, who bought
it in 1971.
1980, Moni met and married his wife Shoba, and with her moved to
the UK. Then in 1985, Moni was approached by relatives in the food
industry in India seeking rice buyers in the UK. His keen business
eye quickly spotted a potentially lucrative gap in the market -
at that time, the then EEC was imposing a levy of £450/tonne
on imported white rice, whereas brown rice could be imported at
the much lower rate of £200/tonne. It became clear that what
was needed was a mill in situ in the UK. Moni founded Veetee rice
- the name taken from the initials of his family name and that of
Thapar, his relatives in India.
1986 the company was up and running. From an initial investment
of £200,000 in a factory at Perivale, the business grew and
by 1989 the need for larger premises became apparent. In 1990, Veetee
Rice transferred its home to Rochester, Kent, where larger premises
and excellent transport afforded by the River Medway presented new
possibilities. The current factory has received over £20 million
investment, and has the facility to carry out the cleaning, milling
and packing of different rice grains, all under one roof.
is now one of the UK's largest volume suppliers of rice with a turnover
of £45 million in 2006. After 20 years producing rice for
supermarket own-label and under its own brand, Varma has signalled
a new era for the company-branching out into microwaveable rice,
pasta and curry sauces in an attempt to shift focus to the more
value-added end of the market.
Foods Limited, Invicta House, Sir Thomas Longley Road, Medway City
Estate, Rochester, Kent ME2 4DU. Tel. 01634 710 258, Fax. 01634
716 270, www.veetee.com