COMING UP FAST: Jamal Hirani and Jonathan Marks, Tiffinbites

COMING UP FAST: Jamal Hirani and Jonathan Marks, Tiffinbites - What are you having for lunch today? Sandwiches? Soup? Or maybe a tiffin box of jeera chicken with lemon rice and lentils, with authentic ingredients supplied all the way from India?

by Rebecca Hoar
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

What are you having for lunch today? Sandwiches? Soup? Or maybe a tiffin box of jeera chicken with lemon rice and lentils, with authentic ingredients supplied all the way from India?

Former M&S employees Jamal Hirani and Jonathan Marks are bringing high-quality Indian food to the nation's lunchtime menu. They aim to roll out Tiffinbites across the UK, rather like an Indian Pret a Manger. 'This is something we've always wanted to do,' says Hirani, 35. 'Indian food is the most popular in the UK, yet there is no national chain of Indian restaurants or takeaways.'

The first Tiffinbites opened in January in Wardour Street, central London, and was turning a profit after three weeks. It's now on target to achieve turnover of pounds 750,000 in its first year. A second London shop is to open this month, and another 10 by year-end. The plan is to have one in every big city in the UK, and then abroad.

Hirani and Marks, 29, raised pounds 500,000 in private investment to start Tiffinbites, at a time when most investors were loath to back start-ups.

The launch wasn't problem-free, with major roadworks in Wardour Street and the first batch of packaging arriving with the firm's name spelt wrong.

'We had to hold our nerves,' says Hirani. In India, self-employed tiffin wallahs have been delivering packed lunches for 110 years. That should give Hirani and Marks the confidence to satisfy their long-term ambition.

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