A career which started behind a butcher’s counter has led to Birmingham’s first self-made billionaire.
Ranjit Boparan , alongside wife Baljinder, have amassed a fortune of £1.35 billion according to a new rich list – making them the wealthiest people in the West Midlands.
It represents a remarkable rise for Mr Boparan, who started at a butcher’s shop in Bilston and now lives in Little Aston, and went on to take over household names like Northern Foods and Harry Ramsden’s.
Ninder Johal, president of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, said he hoped that Mr Boparan’s story would encourage more people to take the plunge and get into business.
He said: “This story tells you that anyone can do it – anyone can get out there, get into business and create something – and it is great to have someone like Ranjit Boparan who has gone out and done it.”
Mr Boparan has made it into the big league of the super-rich at the age of 47, according to a list of the 10 wealthiest British-Asians created by the Asian Business Awards. His fortune places him fifth in the list.
Bilston-born Mr Boparan left school at 16 with few qualifications and started work in a butcher’s shop. But he later founded 2 Sisters Food Group in 1990 with a small bank loan and has seen it grow to employ more than 24,000 people, with annual sales now exceeding £3 billion.
The most recent Birmingham Post Rich List, published in January, recorded the couple’s combined fortune at £740 million – making them the fifth richest in the region – but the latest figures suggest their value has increased.
The company has consistently grown through acquisition, including VION UK’s poultry and red meat businesses, adding
£1 billion of annual sales to the group’s growing turnover, last year.
Mr Johal, who is also chairman of the Black Country Asian Business Association, said: “We have seen 2 Sisters grow rapidly on the back of some very shrewd acquisitions, like Northern Foods and Harry Ramsden’s.”
He added: “We are proud that somebody born here can have done so remarkably well. It is testament to the hard work and entrepreneurial drive of the Asian ethnic population.
“It also shows that the area, the Black Country, is rising rapidly and is successful in manufacturing and the service industry.
“Business is often ignored by both politicians and sometimes the community at large, but it generates wealth and can bring together communities.
“This is a business which employs thousands of people and generates a lot of money for the Treasury.”
Much mystery surrounds the notoriously shy Boparans – who were unavailable for comment when contacted by the Post.
However, in November 2006, the couple’s then 19-year-old son, Antonio, left one-year-old Cerys Edwards with severe brain damage after crashing his Range Rover Sport into the Edwards’ family car. He was found to be travelling at 70mph in a 30mph zone and sentenced to 21 months in jail for dangerous driving.
London-based entrepreneurs Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja top the Asian rich list, having amassed a total worth of £13.5 billion from running a multinational conglomerate and businesses as diverse as trucks and lubricants to banking and healthcare.
Steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal is second on the list, with a
£12 billion value, while Vedanta founder Anil Agarwal and Sir Prakash Lohia, chairman of Indorama Corporation, make up the top five.