British Asian community could be the secret weapon boosting industrial revival and increased exports. Asian-owned corner shops have revolutionised British attitudes to retailing, providing a level of convenience and service hitherto unmatched and Asians are turning their entrepreneurial skills to reviving apparently doomed parts of British industry.
Already, two of the 12 largest private companies in Britain, by turnover, are Asian-owned: Minmetco and Bestway. Others are striving to join them. Take Swraj Paul, the dynamic head of the £230-million Caparo group. In the mid-'80s, he took over a loss-making British Steel plant (see the article, The Pauls Raise a Phoenix, in last month's Management Today) and now exports 50% of production to Europe. Nat Puri, head of the £162-million Melton Medes engineering and textiles group, made bids for the Rover group and parts of British Shipbuilders, which were turned down. Today, Puri concentrates on protecting margins and ploughing in money into his Nottingham-based group.
Our list shows that smaller groups are beginning to make their mark in diverse areas. As so much entrepreneurial talent has been snuffed out by high interest rates and business failure, we may need the Asians' skills more than ever as the wider-European market dawns.
BRITAIN'S TOP TEN ASIAN-OWNED BUSINESSES BY TURNOVER COMPANY BUSINESS TURNOVER
Bestway Hldgs Retailing £377m
Minmetco Metal dealing £355m
Caparo Engineering £230m
Melton Medes Engineering £162m
Pepe Gp Clothing £136m
Woralco Metal dealing £67m
Edwardian Gp Hotels £44m
PL Hlgs Packaging £34m
Solai Hldgs Chemicals £17m
C H Shah Textiles £16m
Source: Jordan's Britain's Top Privately Owned Companies, The Corporate Register and Companies House.