Nation special report
LONDON: In recognition to his earnest and dedicated services to Britain and the community, Zameer Choudrey CBE, Chief Executive of Bestway Group, has been appointed to the House of Lords under the Queens intention of conferring Peerages of the United Kingdom on Tuesday (September 10).
A delightful decision that has been widely cheered and welcomed by the community especially the trading industry as a encouraging sign for the sincere members of the population. “Zameer Choudhry deserves thos prestigious status and the Queen has very rightly took the decion”, a number of community leaders opined.
Commenting over the decision, Zameer Choudrey said: “It is an immense honour. I am truly humbled to have been appointed to the House of Lords. I have always viewed the UK to be the land of opportunity and I look forward to contributing to the continued advancement of our great country.”
The appointment is in recognition of his considerable contributions to Britain’s domestic and foreign trade as a leading businessman and entrepreneur, his wide array of philanthropic work both in the UK and abroad, and his role as Chairman of the Conservative Friends of Pakistan.
As Chief Executive of Bestway Group, Choudrey has already driven tremendous growth in businesses across the UK and Pakistan. This led to Choudrey being appointed to Deputy Chairman of the Pakistan Britain Trade & Investment Forum and serving as a member of the Confederation of British Industry’s Economic Affairs Committee in previous years.
He has also regularly been asked to facilitate private government visits to both Pakistan and the UK for senior government officials from both countries, including the Mayors of London and the West Midlands, and private investors, to discuss how both the UK and Pakistan can look to increase trade and investment. These strong ties with Pakistan will mean Choudrey will be looking to utilise his vast experience to build more bilateral trade, create more jobs here in the UK and improve foreign relations between our two countries.
Zameer Choudrey comes from humble beginnings having grown up in a remote village in Pakistan, before moving to the UK at the age of 12. His remarkable success over his career led to him being appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2016 New Year’s Honours List for services to industry and philanthropy. He also sits as a trustee for several national charities, including Crimestoppers, Grocery Aid and Bestway Foundation, which has donated over £30 million to worthy education and healthcare causes. In January 2018, he was appointed as UK Chair of the British Asian Trust’s Advisory Council, by HRH The Prince of Wales.
In his role as Chief Executive of Bestway Group, Choudrey has overseen the growth of the Group into one of the UK’s largest family owned businesses, which employs over 27,000 people worldwide. In the UK, Bestway Group currently provides employment for 15,000 people.
Under Choudrey’s stewardship, Bestway Group has become the largest British investor and philanthropic contributor in Pakistan, and gained recognition from the President of Pakistan in 2018, with a prestigious Pakistani civil award, the ‘Sitara-e-Imtiaz’ (Star of Excellence).
Choudrey will look to draw on his keen understanding of entrepreneurship, supporting SMEs and his understanding of the challenges faced on the high street. And with the business’ acquisition of Well Pharmacy in 2014, the third largest pharmacy chain in the UK, Choudrey is well positioned to advise on community welfare and healthcare too.
In addition to the UK businesses, Choudrey has spearheaded tremendous growth and investment abroad with the two arms of Bestway Group that operate in Pakistan – United Bank Limited, the 2nd largest private bank in Pakistan and Bestway Cement, Pakistan’s largest cement manufacturer. The success of these businesses has shown him to have an astute understanding of the financial services sector, as well as of infrastructure and foreign trade.
Zameer Choudhry joined Bestway Group as Financial Controller in 1984. In 1990, he was appointed as Finance Director. Having spearheaded the wholesale business’ rapid expansion across the UK, he was then assigned the task of business diversification by the board of directors in the early 1990’s and having founded Bestway Cement in 1995, he was appointed Chief Executive of the cement business. In October 2002, having led the acquisition of United Bank Limited (UBL), Zameer Choudrey was then appointed to the Board of UBL. In July 2004 he was promoted to the position of Chief Executive of Bestway Group and continued to lead the group’s diversification including the acquisition of Well Pharmacy.
Bestway Group was founded in 1963 by Sir Anwar Pervez OBE HPk. It is the UK’s 18th largest privately-owned company and 7th largest family owned business. The Group consists of: Bestway Wholesale, the larges independent wholesaler in the UK; recently acquired Bestway Retail, which services approximately 760 franchise and corporate convenience stores; Well Pharmacy, the third largest pharmacy business in the UK; Bestway Cement, the largest cement manufacturer in Pakistan; and United Bank Limited, the 2nd largest private bank in Pakistan. The company has a global workforce of over 27,000 people, including 15,000 in the UK alone.
Bestway Wholesale is the UK’s largest independent wholesaler with turnover of approximately £2bn. It serves 125,000 independent retailers and caterers from over 60 warehouses nationwide, and with over 6 million square feet of selling space offering a product range of over 25,000 items. The business consists of 3 core divisions: Food and Drink Wholesale / Retail (Bestway Wholesale, best-one Symbol Group, Xtra Local Retail Club and Bestway Export), Foodservice (BB Foodservice, Drinks Express) and Pet Wholesale / Retail (Bestpets and Bestpets Local).
Bestway Retail (acquired from Conviviality Retail in April 2018) includes over 700 franchised and company-owned operations Bargain Booze, Select Convenience, Wine Rack and Central Convenience.
Well Pharmacy (acquired from Co-operative Pharmacy) is the third largest pharmacy business in the UK and the largest in Wales, is also part of the Group with over 770 branches across the UK, over 7,000 employees and with a turnover of £779.2m.
Bestway Cement, founded by Bestway Group in 1995 as a greenfield site, is now Pakistan’s largest cement manufacturer with an annual capacity of 10.8 million tonnes.
United Bank Limited, Pakistan’s second largest private bank with assets under management of US$14.6 billion and a branch network of over 1,400 branches serving over five million customers.
The philanthropic arm of the group, the Bestway Foundation, established in 1987, donates 2.5 per cent of its annual post-tax profits to social projects in education and healthcare in the countries in which it operates. The Bestway Foundation has supported many charities at home and abroad including the British Asian Trust, Macmillan Cancer Relief, Barnardos, CrimeStoppers, Dyslexia Action, Grocery Aid, Action for Children and the Imran Khan Cancer Appeal, in addition to supporting many natural disaster rehabilitation and relief efforts. Since its inception, the Foundation has also provided scholarships to over 450 students of South Asian origin to attend universities in the UK, USA and Canada and 4,000 school children in Pakistan now benefit from free education due to the Bestway Foundation’s donations.