East End Foods wins Coutts Prize for Family Business

East End Foods wins Coutts Prize for Family Business

West Bromwich Indian Foodstuffs company named ‘Best UK Family Business, Northern England and Midlands Region, £25m+ turnover category’

West Bromwich based East End Foods, has been named ‘Best UK Family Business, Northern England and the Midlands Region’, in the £25m+ turnover category of the Coutts Prize for Family Business 2008/9. The company will now go on to compete in the £25m+ category at the national finals to be held in central London on 23rd June 2009.

Formed in 1972 by the Wouhra brothers, East End Foods is a second generation family business and is the largest importer of Indian food products and ingredients to the UK. They clean, pack and process the goods in the UK and distribute to independent stores and large retailers such as Waitrose, Tesco and Asda across both the UK and Europe. Their business also includes two cash and carry stores in Birmingham.

Lucy Armstrong, Regional Chair of the evaluation committee commented:
“East End Foods is an amazing success story for a family who have built something from nothing in less than thirty years. This is an entrepreneurial family that has used all its talents to develop a strong business with consistent growth and profitability. The judges were particularly impressed with:

the family’s success in building something from nothing in less than thirty years, through organic growth;
the relationship the business has formed with customer groups; and
the strong sense of family commitment and involvement in the business, from summer jobs for the next generation to a willingness for succession to take place now the second generation is in the boardroom; and
the active engagement in the local community and the broader environment in which they operate such as working with hospitals to produce healthy Indian meals as part of their commitment to being a good corporate citizen.”
Juliette Johnson, Senior Family Business Adviser, Coutts & Co added “We’re delighted to provide recognition to this special family business and showcase their achievements for the benefit of other family businesses. What really shines through is the strength of the family’s values. These influence how and why things get done and act as the glue binding the family and business together. These strong values, coupled with their conservative approach and long term planning, should give them the best possible chance to weather this current economic downturn.”

With the current economic downturn, businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to survive, which therefore increases the value of recognising these family businesses and their work. The companies that scored most highly were the ones that were able to give examples of what they had achieved.

Mark Evans, Head of Family Business, Coutts & Co, commented: “Success factors that can help family businesses adapt to the current economic downturn are at the heart of the fourth Coutts Prize for Family Business. It will be equally important to take active steps to manage the family as well as the business to survive the current recession.”

Jason Wouhra, Operations Director and Company Secretary of East End Foods and second generation member of the Wouhra family said: “We are extremely pleased to receive the Coutts Prize for Family Business as recognition for our hard work and family unity. As a second generation member of the family and board, I am looking forward to our next stage of growth and future progress. Our strong team, family values and ongoing strategy will enable us to achieve this despite the present economic conditions.”

The Coutts Prize for Family Business recognises the best run family businesses in England and Wales, and is the only regional and national awards programme in England and Wales celebrating the overall best performing small, medium-sized and large family businesses. The Prize, compliments Coutts successful Forum for Family Business Owners that is held throughout the UK.

The Coutts Prize recognises firms in three categories (£1m-5m, £5m-£25m, £25m+) that demonstrate a combination of high standards of family governance and corporate governance, a competitive market position, consistent financial growth, and a track record of charitable giving or involvement in local community. Entrants must be companies or firms where two or more family members together have control of over 25% of the voting shares and consider themselves as a family business.

More specifically, the independent evaluation committee was looking for examples of best practice including;

the strength of the family’s values;
the involvement of the family;
communication and planning;
the separation of ‘ownership’ and ‘management’;
the use of external, independent advice;
the development of a succession planning process;
next generation development;
conflict management; and
philanthropy and charitable involvement.
The independent evaluation committee is overseen by Roger Pedder, former Chairman, between 1993 and 2006, of C&J Clark Ltd (Clark Shoes), one of the UK’s largest private family companies. It was established in 1825 and is in its sixth generation. Clarks is the leading shoe retailer and brand in the UK and has significant positions in North American, European and Far Eastern markets. Roger remains Chairman or Non-Executive Director of several private family and private equity backed companies and runs his own company, Fullzone Limited

The evaluation committee for the Northern England and the Midlands region includes: Lucy Armstrong, Chief Executive, The Alchemists (Northern) Limited; Miles Brough, Managing Director, Jesse Brough Metals International Limited; Dr Carole Howorth, Senior Lecturer, Lancaster University Management School; David Johnson, Director, Leaders Matter; Peter Leach, Peter Leach LLP; Christopher Oughtred, Former Chairman, William Jackson & Son Limited; John Williams, Chairman, Tomorrow’s Company.

Renowned cartoonist, Robert Duncan, will create a unique cartoon for each of the winners, to tell their own story. The cartoons are framed by second generation family business John Jones. Silver plaques are made by third generation family business, Piccadilly Jewellers of Birmingham.

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