London, June 09, 2005
Perween Warsi, (NRI) a non-resident Indian, who runs
a multi-million pound food empire, on Thursday won
a lifetime achievement award and has been placed among
Britain's ten most remarkable women. She is also named
as 29th richest asian entrepreneur
NRI Warsi, 48, was inspired to start a cooking business
after buying a 'tasteless samosa' from a local shop
in Derby. Fourteen years ago she started S&A Foods
as a tiny cottage industry and developed it into a
major enterprise. S&A Foods's name was selected
from her sons Sadiq and Abid. She said, "As a
woman, you wear 2 hats. My husband has been very supportive.
My customers have been very supportive, e.g. I knew
nothing about food hygiene, quality control, etc.,
and they helped me. We have a value which is "No
idea is a silly idea". We have a scheme called
MBI (My Bright Idea). In general we encourage it."
S&A Food company produces two million meals
a week in Derby, employing over 1,300 people in five
high-tech factories. Annual turnover is in the region
of £100 million. No small achievement in just
over 16 years. 'Sensationally Better Eating' is what
you see on company literature. Perween is passionate
about innovation and high standards, when it comes
NRI Perween's entrepreneurial career started in her
kitchen. She tried out her own recipes, persuaded
a local take-away to offer her Indian snacks. Their
popularity exploded. So she turned herself into a
Starting with Indian snack foods, samosas and bhajis,
today they produce a huge range of sensational foods.
Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Middle Eastern, American
and even traditional English with an enlivening twist
are the ever-extending range. Perween has an international
team of chefs, each distinguished in his or her culinary
background. Experimenting with new dishes is a constant
quest.S&A has won some 20-awards for excellence
in its products. It proves the quality of Perween's
managerial skills. We are a business that works 24/7
and we have 4 different shifts.
NRI Perween warsi said, "the most important
thing for a successful business career are "clear
vision and determination. You must be disciplined,
but make sure you enjoy what you do. Cooking is still
my hobby. I find it therapeutic."
In 1989, contracts to supply Asda, Safeway and Tesco
were signed and S&A Foods grew, and established
itself in an industrial unit in Shaftsbury Street
South. Success of S&A Foods made her husband,
a doctor to quit his profession and join her. He manages
the sales and marketing of the company.
NRI, Perween married Talib Warsi when she was 17
in a traditional, arranged match. In 1975 they migrated
to Britain, lived first in Wales and then Yorkshire,before
moving to Derby, to the house in which they still
For Perween, her roots are Indian. Aspects of her
family's experiences and Indian culture influence
her entrepreneurial approach and vision for the future.
She grew up in a family that in some ways respected
traditional ways whilst encouraging mould breaking.
As a civil engineer, her father's work meant that
his family moved frequently from place to place. This
constant movement gave Perween the opportunity to
discover how to make friends by learning to understand
how to live with people from different cultures. She
loved seeing different places, experiencing different
foods and discovering different customs. Constant
change was normal. She learnt to 'start life all over
again' and enjoy it.