The Asian influence on British business is staggering. From the entrepreneurial types such as the Jatania brothers, to Vodafone chief executive Arun Sarin at the helm of a FTSE 100 company, and now Asian companies stalking their European rivals, this vast continent is making its presence felt at every level of UK plc.
The figures alone tell quite a story. Asian-owned businesses in London have a turnover of about 60bn a year, while real Asian wealth increased by 69pc between 1998 and 2005, compared with UK GDP up just 23pc.
Today, in conjunction with Eastern Eye, Britains biggest selling south-Asian newspaper, The Daily Telegraph publishes details of Britains richest Asians.
The list includes people with companies based in the UK who do all, or a significant amount, of their business here. Wealthy Indians based in the UK but whose business interests are largely overseas are excluded – hence the absence of steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal and the financial services business of the Hinduja brothers.
The list appears ahead of the glittering Eastern Eye Asian business awards, being held tonight at the London Hilton on Park Lane.
Spinder Dhaliwal, of the University of Surrey, who complied the list, says: What I find exciting is the bravery of it all. You see these entrepreneurial heroes. They never stand still, they are all going forward. Its that pace, that inner confidence. Weve been here three decades. There is no inherited wealth on the list. They have really used their business acumen and broken through a lot of barriers and prejudices.
The majority are true rags to riches stories. Mike Jatania and his three brothers, who run cosmetics giant Lornamead and top the list for the fifth year running, came to Britain from Uganda in 1969 when Asians were expelled from the country by Idi Amin.
Kamel Hothi, the Asian markets director for Lloyds TSB, says these difficult beginnings can spur individuals to great things. Indians who were chucked out of Uganda or South Africa, when families suffer that loss, that mindset of having no option but to succeed – that really pushes and drives you.
The four brothers are now worth 850m, having built a business buying unwanted brands from the multinationals and relaunching them with a marketing push in new areas.
Vijay and Bhikhu Patel (3rd, 500m), who run the Waymade Healthcare company, tell a similar story. Born into poverty in the western highlands of Kenya, the brothers are now easily recognisable from their various appearances on television and their portraits hang in the National Portrait Gallery.
Vijay said: I never want to go back to living in poverty. That has been the biggest stimulus for me to get on in life and succeed. I knew I couldnt get any lower than where I have been.
The pair opened their first pharmacy in 1975. They now supply and distribute branded and generic drugs internationally and have created a subsidiary to develop and launch new drugs.
Ms Hothi sees this as a natural progression for Asian businessmen and women. When you have glass ceilings, the best thing is self-employment, so the best thing to do is to start your own corner shop, she said. That is the path for entrepreneurship. Then pharmacy is the next best thing when children come back from university and want to use their degrees, and then franchises.
But in terms of sectors, hoteliers have overtaken pharmaceuticals to dominate the list. Jasminder Singh and his family (5th, 360m) have built one of the largest privately owned hotel chains in Britain, the Edwardian Radisson Group.
Firoz Kassam (9th, 240m) heads the Firoka Group of companies, which includes the Holiday Inn in Kings Cross.
Traditional industries still have their place on the list. Lord Swraj Paul and family (2nd, 750m), and Nat Puri and his family (13th, 130m) both head traditional Asian conglomerates.
Lord Paul, who is also an active member of the House of Lords, chairs the Caparo Group, which spans steel, engineering, materials testing, hotels and the Caparo Innovation Centre. A combination of packaging, paper, engineering, textiles and plastics made Mr Puri into Nottinghams richest man.
Elsewhere, Asian businessmen and women are taking those traditional industries to a new level. The Asian interest in the textiles industry, for example, has evolved into fashion.
Tom Singh (6th, 350m) built the New Look fashion chain after borrowing 5,000 from his parents to open his first shop. Rival Shami Ahmed and his family (15th, 115m) have built the Joe Bloggs label into a global brand.
But the list is devoid of any active internet entrepreneurs. Dinesh Dhamija (14th, 120m), who headed internet travel agency ebookers for several years, sold it to Cedant in 2004 and is now focusing on his private equity firm, India Gate Partners, which raises money to invest in Indian companies.
Family is the overwhelming theme running through the list, with only three of the top 20 entrants appearing as individuals.
Consequently, the majority of businesses on the list are privately owned, but Ms Dhaliwal says this is now changing.
The Asian community tend to be very territorial and they are quite protective of their companies. But the list shows they are getting external managers in, professional advisers and so on, all that is beginning to happen. And I think it will be more so when the next generation take over the business.
Of the entrants, Tom Singh has flirted with the Stock Exchange, floating New Look in 1997, only to buy it back with private equity funding in 2004.
But with the emerging interest in all things Indian, there is surely corporate activity on the horizon.
Kishore Lulla, chairman and chief executive of Eros International, the worlds largest distributor of Bollywood films, says: I think this is the best time for Asians in business now. India is the flavour. So take all the opportunities, go out and globalise your business and do whatever you can in your position. I believe that the next 10 years will be really exciting for Asians and their businesses.
Uganda-born Jatania and his three brothers, George, Vin and Danny, run the cosmetics giant Lornamead. The Lornamead Group is a privately owned international manufacturer and marketer of cosmetics brands.
It specialises in purchasing under-used brands and companies, re-energising management and reinvigorating the organisations.
Its portfolio includes big names such as Yardley, Lipsil, Body Mist, Sara Lee, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Henkel Schwarzkopf.
The company has its international headquarters in the UK but maintains offices in the Middle East, America and Germany, and distributes brands in more than 50 countries.
In February 2007, Lornamead established new offices in India, as it starts significantly to increase its business in this market, with a particular focus on Yardley and Finesse.
India-born Lord Paul, chairman of the Caparo Group, is a leading businessman and an active member of the House of Lords. He came to the UK in 1966 and founded Caparo, a private diversified, UK-based group specialising principally in the manufacture and supply of steel and engineering products for industry.
The Patel brothers arrived in the UK from Kenya when Vijay was just 16. They now head up Waymade Healthcare, a wholesale pharmaceuticals business. In an attempt to build the Asian Glaxo, the brothers have created a subsidiary, Amdipharm, which aims to develop and launch new drugs.
Karachi-born Lalvani is the founder and chairman of Binatone, one of the worlds largest manufacturers of digital cordless phones. Lalvani founded Binatone in Britain in 1958 with his brother Partap, naming it after their sister, Bina.
Tanzania-born luxury hotel boss Singh is chairman and chief executive of one of the most successful hotel chains in Britain, the Edwardian Radisson Group.
Singh founded New Look in 1969. It is now the third-largest womenswear retailer in Britain behind Marks & Spencer and Next, and the second-biggest womens footwear retailer.
Sachdev formed Life Style Care with his wife Pratibha in 1987. He sold it 11 years later, making 25m from the familys 85pc stake. Having recently sold his second company, in nursing homes, he is now planning a third.
Sir Anwar began his career in the food business in 1963, when he opened a mini supermarket in Earls Court. He has since built an empire to become the Cash and Carry king with Bestway, a 50-warehouse operation in Britain, which employs around 4,500 people.
A hotels and leisure magnate, and the former owner of Oxford United FC, Kassam is famous for his eponymous stadium, a 12,500-seater on the edge of Oxford, which includes a hotel, cinema, bowling alley, gym, and restaurants.
Engineer and his wife Varsha already have succession planning in place for the familys pharmaceuticals business Chemidex, with both children studying medicine.
The Kenya-born Mehta brothers are proof that a low profile is not the same as low achievement. Their fortune is built on their business, Necessity Supplies, which specialises in parallel importing.
Birmingham-based Alimahomed recently sold his packaging company Europackaging to MidOcean Partners in a deal thought to be worth 170m-190m, netting the family a tidy 100m windfall.
Said to be Nottinghams richest man, Nathu Puri has built Melton Medes Group into a business empire in packaging, paper, engineering, textiles and plastics, in Germany, China, Poland and Hungary.
After a spell at IBM, Dhamija started in business with a small stall in west London selling cheap flights to budget travellers. He founded Dabin Travel in 1980 and Flightbookers in 1983. He has headed since June 1999.
Ahmed started out as a market trader in Burnley and went on to found the Joe Bloggs brand, which employs more than 2,000 people. Outside fashion he invests in properties across London and companies such as Austin Reed.
The Kumars Manchester-based business has grown from an initial investment of just 33 to an international multi-million-pound fashion distribution empire, Rajan Fashions. The company supplies chains from Zara to JC Penney.
Harpal remains one of the top 20 hoteliers in the country with his Global Grange business. He incorporated the company in 1980 and it has been resilient despite fluctuating conditions over the years. Its latest London project is a 200-bed hotel converted from a Ministry of Defence building.
One of the top hoteliers in the country, Surinder opened the Arora International at Heathrow in 1999, the first hotel in Britain purpose-built for airline crew. He and his family own hotels near Heathrow and Gatwick airports and their businesses have survived well despite difficult times in the travel and property industries.
Rita Sharma started her own business to escape a job that bored her. She built Worldwide Journeys from a tiny Oxford Street office and is now one of the richest women in London. Her accountant husband, Rahul, quit his job to join her and the business now employs more than 100 staff.
After arriving in Manchester with his family in the early 1970s, Iqbal and his brothers, Kamal and Bilal, set up Iqbal Brothers to sell tropical fruit to wholesale caterers. They diversified into frozen fish and now run Seamark, best known for the Mr Prawn brand.
In 1987 the first four members of parliament from ethnic minorities were elected in half a century. Now there are 15 MPs from ethnic minorities, the majority of them Asian.
Sadiq Khan, Labour MP for Tooting, comes third on our list of the most powerful British Asians in politics.
The more representative parliament has become, the more relevant the legislation has been, he says. But the progress that has been made hasnt been as fast as it should be.
What progress there has been, however, has produced some very powerful figures.
At the top of our list is Labours Lord Nazir Ahmed, who became the first Muslim member of the House of Lords in 1998 and is seen as the leading Muslim political voice in Britain. He describes himself as very much a peer of the people because of his working-class background.
Second comes Parmjit Dhanda, Labour MP for Gloucester and one of the rising stars in British politics. He joined the Labour Party in 1988 and was last year appointed a government whip.
Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Ashok Kumar, is in fourth place. A former research scientist for British Steel, he is now on the parliamentary trade and industry committee.
In fifth place, Kashmiri- born Khalid Mahmood is best known for his outspoken views on the War on Terror. He is Birminghams only ethnic MP, representing the Perry Barr constituency.
There is also one Tory on the list. Priti Patel, at number seven, was the first Asian candidate to benefit from David Camerons A list of prospective candidates. She intends to contest the seat for Witham in Essex at the next election.
2 Parmjit Dhanda, Labour MP for Gloucester. Government whip
3 Sadiq Khan, Labour MP for Tooting. On the Public Accounts Select Committee
4 Ashok Kumar, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland
6 Mohammed Sarwar, Labour MP for Glasgow Central
7 Priti Patel, prospective Conservative candidate for Witham in Essex
8 Baroness Uddin, Labour peer. First Muslim woman to enter the Lords in 1998
10 Salma Yaqoob, vice-chair of the Respect party. Second to Labour in a Birmingham seat at the last election
Shami Chakrabarti, director of national civil rights group Liberty, tops our list of the most powerful British Asian women. Since 2001, Chakrabarti has campaigned for human rights in Parliament, and the courts. She is rarely absent from our TV screens, and is a staple guest on Radio 4s Today programme.
Human rights is a running theme and the seventh secretary-general of Amnesty International, Irene Zubaida Khan, comes second on the list. She has led missions across the world through Bangladesh, Pakistan, Lebanon and Israel to discuss human rights issues, and won the Sydney Peace Prize in 2006.
I lived through a war in Bangladesh and saw how people with nothing gave others food and shelter, she says. It gave me courage to think that when you cant rely on government to protect you, you can rely on human nature. So Ive made the purpose of my life to contribute to society and give back what I get.
Third on the list, Parveen Kumar, heads up the British Medical Association. Author of one of the most widely read medical textbooks for students and doctors internationally, she has become a medical celebrity, giving lectures across the globe.
Legal services complaints commissioner and legal services ombudsman for England and Wales, Zahida Manzoor, is hot on her heels in fourth place. She oversees the handling of complaints by professional bodies, including the Law Society and the General Council of the Bar.
For my generation it was unusual for Muslim women to go to university – it was frowned upon, she says. I am very grateful that my father, who was my main source of inspiration, paid no heed.
Next comes Sheetal Mehta, who heads up Innovative Social Ventures, where she acts as a liaison between the Government and entrepreneurs, and helps technology start-ups to access venture capital.
The ubiquitous Meena Pathak, of Pataks Indian food company, which has taken traditional Indian cooking to the supermarket shelves, comes sixth on the list. She is director of product development and frequently travels to the sub-continent to source the spice mixes that go into her cooking sauces, curry pastes, chutney, pickles, ready meals, snacks and breads.
Seventh comes the first woman ever to hold the BBCs top finance job, Zarin Patel. She has the unenviable task of balancing an annual budget of around 4bn. She is a member of the BBC executive board, and reports to director-general Mark Thompson.
Another high-flying businesswoman is Ruby McGregor Smith, in eighth place, as one of the few female chief executives of a FTSE 100 company, support services group MITIE.
1 Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil rights group Liberty
2 Irene Zubaida Khan, seventh secretary general of Amnesty International
3 Parveen Kumar, head of the British Medical Association
4 Zahida Manzoor, legal services complaints commissioner and legal services ombudsman
5 Sheetal Mehta, chief executive of Innovative Social Ventures
6 Meena Pathak, co-owner and director of Pataks Indian food company
8 Ruby McGregor Smith, chief executive of MITIE Group
10 Sayeeda Warsi, vice-chairman of the Conservative Party
Compiled by Savita Vij, editor of CultivAsian magazine
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