A BUSINESS started with a bhaji at home has turned into a major employer with a turnover of £14m.
Laila Remtulla’s family-run firm – Laila’s Fine Foods – is undergoing a factory expansion and has doubled turnover in the past five years.
Twenty-five years ago, Laila took some home-made samosas and bhajis to a deli after being left disappointed with some she had bought. The deli owner was so taken with them he put in an order and her business was born.
It is now in its third premises with a 10,000 sq ft extension on the way and employs 170 staff at its Moor Park Avenue site.
And its authentic, ready prepared meals for both the food service and retail markets has extended from eastern fare into Italian, English and South American dishes.
Laila, from a long line of professional cooks and chefs, said: “All three daughters and my husband are in the business.
“My husband Nazir is a big part of the firm – he runs the operations and works so hard.”
Youngest daughter Natasha is purchasing director, looking after everything from raw ingredients to packaging.
Zera is sales and technical director, and Rishma, marketing and development director.
Laila said: “When I started I was bringing three children up and it was part time. It was a hobby. Nazir had his own business, we’d moved to a new area and it kept me occupied.
“We never expected it to grow to this size.
“We’re always trying to get new customers but our current growth is with current clients.”
Two of those customers are Asda and Morrisons.
Laila added: “We find if the supermarkets are interested they will come to you. The quality of produce speaks for itself – we don’t chase them, they come to us.”
Nazir said although the factory operated for 22 hours a day, it was definitely a 24-hour concern for the whole family, and he never sleeps before the factory, which runs for 22 hours a day, closes.
Zera said: “It’s impossible to switch off because its something we have in common. We’re involved in a successful business. And we’re very sociable as a family when we’re outside work.”
The economic downturn has had an effect – but the business’ growth continues.
Laila said: “Oil prices reflect on everything – everything we use is delivered.
“The price is never going to return to what it was.”
And Zera added: “And of course it impacts on the cost of packaging as well.”
It made the move into the Bispham premises more difficult.
Zera added: “We went through a hard time.
“We moved factories and went for our expansion at just the wrong time – but we weathered the storm and are expanding again now.
“People will always need to eat.”