The Asian Business Awards were presented by Kalpesh & Shailesh Ramniklal Solanki
Group Managing & Executive Editors
Eastern Eye & Asian Media Group
Shailesh Solanki, Victoria Crampton, Dr. Nikhil Shah Koolesh Shah Foundation, Tej Lalvani CEO, Vitabiotics, Kalpesh Solanki
Tej Lalvani, CEO, Vitabiotics
Founded by the current CEO’s father in 1971, the company has grown through great product innovation, strategic planning and brilliant marketing.
Today the company exports to over 100 countries and has created highly successful partnerships with famous brand ambassadors and blue-chip companies.
Our winner’s CEO is something of a celebrity in his own right and a famed investor in start-ups. Tej Lalvani is perhaps most famous for his five years as a Dragon on the BBC’s Dragon’s Den but his real achievement is in transforming the family business into a global powerhouse.
His shrewd business expertise over the last twenty years has led the phenomenal growth of Vitabiotics into the UK’s largest vitamin company, while driving worldwide expansion to over 100 countries.
With a flair for product design and branding, Tej has created highly successful partnerships with Disney and Peppa Pig while bringing in famous brand ambassadors such as Nicole Scherzinger, Heidi Klum and David Gandy.
Shailesh Solanki, Councillor Ameet Jogia MBE, Bobby Bawa Foodspeed Ltd, Kalpesh Solanki
Bobby Bawa, Managing Director Foodspeed Ltd
Our winner operates at the premium end of the food and drink market, supplying some of the country’s most prestigious establishments. The company has held a Royal Warrant to supply Her Majesty The Queen for over 15 years and it supplies some 500 high-end clients like The Royal Palaces, Nobu, The Savoy and the OWO Raffles.
Despite Brexit, they continue to import every week more than 20 tonnes of premium products from a range of European territories including France, Belgium and Italy.
Foodspeed is one of only a handful of Asian-owned businesses to have been awarded the Royal Warrant to HM The Queen and has built an enviable reputation as leader in the sector. The company is dedicated to sustainability and actively works to reduce its environmental impact. The company maps its supply chain to ensure sustainable and ethical practices especially when it comes to organic produce and animal welfare.
Shailesh Solanki, Manish Gargi, Chief Executive Officer State Bank of India, Karim Janmohamed Karali , Kalpesh Solanki
Karim Janmohamed, Co-CEO, Karali
A graduate of both Cambridge University and the London School of Economics, gaining first-class degrees from both institutions, he joined his family business after a stellar career in investment banking.
In a little less than two years he helped his family exit the quick service restaurant business at the top of the market and then orchestrate the family’s re-entry in the market with the purchase of 32 Burger King Restaurants in prime locations in the US.
Karim Janmohamed is an astute young entrepreneur who learnt the intricacies of fast-food franchising at his father Salim’s knee. Karim now serves as Co-CEO of Karali North America, a vehicle concentrated on the Group’s North American investments. Karim recently led the acquisition of a portfolio of Burger King restaurants across Ohio and Pennsylvania, with the family now focussing their efforts on both sides of the pond across the consumer, hospitality and real estate. The Karali Group was the largest UK franchisee of Burger King landscapes before they exited at the end of 2022.
Shailesh Solanki, Parul Goel Zee TV, Jaimin Solanki, Kalpesh Solanki
Parul Goel, Territory Head UK Zee TV
Our winner heads one of the leading Indian media networks in the UK and Europe. Serving as UK head and CFO for Europe, USA and Canada, our winner launched four new channels this year, extending its reach both here and in Europe. The group has witnessed double digit growth under our winner’s leadership and the recent launch of the first English dubbed entertainment channel has opened opportunity to engage wider audiences.
Heading up the largest Indian broadcaster in the UK, Parul Goel has quickly proven himself a real television star. For over 20 years he has he covered varied sectors in India, then worked in the UK for Barclays and joined the Bank of England’s Decision Maker Panel. At Zee TV he launched the Zee World channel on Freeview as the world’s first English-dubbed Indian Entertainment Channel, with an ambition to make Indian entertainment mainstream for all Brits, and plans to do the same for the Nordics and Benelux countries.
Shailesh Solanki, Surinder Arora Founder & Executive Chairman Arora Group, Rishi Khosla CEO and Founder OakNorth Bank, Dr Selva Pankaj Regent Group, Kalpesh Solanki
Dr Selva Pankaj, Founder & CEO, Regent Group
Our winner came to the UK as a refugee, fleeing the civil war in Sri Lanka. He qualified as an accountant and began tutoring to earn some side income when he and his wife struck on the idea to establish a High Education college. Today that company is one of the country’s fastest growing education establishments serving 10,000 students.
Already with a presence in Dubai, it has recently established a European on-line University with 2,000 students, and with its six UK partners is on the verge of itself becoming established as a British University.
Dr Selva Pankaj is an author, researcher and an educational leader who co-founded Regent with his wife Tharshiny in 2000, originally providing private tuition at £20 an hour. Selva became interested in the knowing-versus-doing gap, and soon developed his Thinking into Character learning programs he had discovered while at Harvard University. Through Regent, his on-demand and self-paced programs have already reached over 50,000 students.
Shailesh Solanki, Amit Roy Eastern Eye, Rithika Siddhartha Eastern Eye, Sanjay Arora, Arora Group, Kalpesh Solanki
Sanjay Arora, Chief Operating Officer, Arora Group
Sanjay joined his father Surinder in the Arora Group in 2016 as a director, where he oversees the group’s new acquisitions and new developments. He was appointed Group Strategy Director in 2019 and then Chief Operating Officer in 2022, setting the vision for the future of the Group as well as continuing to diversify the existing portfolio into new sectors.
Since he joined the business he has over seen the group’s new acquisitions and helped develop two new landmark hotels which have become favoured venues for business leaders and Prime Ministers.
The family have ambitious plans for their new Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf & Spa which they hope will one day host the Golf Masters! Sanjay is a man with big plans.
Shailesh Solanki, Kanesh Balasubranium Pratham, Joshna & Vraj Pankhania Wescombe Group, Bob Blackman MP, Kamal and Shraddha Pankhania Westcombe Group, Kalpesh Solanki
Vraj Pankhania & Family
Vraj Pankhania is an entrepreneur with a social conscience who once said that “with success comes a moral obligation to ensure that the bright light of prosperity reaches those parts of society which are too often overlooked.”
Over three decades he has donated millions of pounds through the Westcombe Foundation and is personally involved with every project, from transforming cancer treatment after witnessing poor facilities in India, distributing artificial limbs in Africa, to rebuilding schools in earthquake-torn Nepal. In Britain, he supports Centrepoint, Crisis and the Trussell Trust to help those in dire poverty as the cost-of living crisis grips the nation.
Shailesh Solanki, Dr. Nik Kotecha, Dr. Swati Dhingra Bank of England , Kalpesh Solanki
Dr Swati Dhingra, External Member of the Monetary Policy Committee, Bank of England
Swati Dhingra graduated from the University of Delhi and then the University of Wisconsin-Madison, before becoming a post-doctoral fellow at Princeton University. Now also Associate Professor of Economics at LSE, she is one of the country’s leading economists and an eminent member of the MPC panel who has taken a more cautious approach to recent rises in interest rates.
From the challenges of Brexit to the impact of Covid on the UK economy, our winner’s policy papers have had impact at the highest levels.
In May last year our winner was appointed by the then Chancellor Rishi Sunak as one of the nine members of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, a body which crucially sets the country’s interest rates.
Swati is also a Director of The Royal Mint Museum and a member of the Steering Group for the UK’s Economy 2030 Inquiry.
Mr Nirmal Sethia was unable to attend the Asian Business Awards. Dr Senthil Nathan kindly received the award on his behalf. Shailesh Solanki, Kamal Pankhania Westcombe Group, Dr Nathan Senthil, Kalpesh Solanki
Nirmal Sethia, Chairman, N.Sethia Group of Companies
Nirmal Sethia is an internationally renowned entrepreneur whose business empire spans the UK, Europe, Russia, India and the Middle East. His multi-billion pound empire, quite uniquely has no debt. Mr Sethia’s NEWBY tea is one the world’s leading luxury tea brands and has as part of its mission the revival of tea as a medicinal beverage and not just a hot drink. His dedicated revival of tea culture fits perfectly not just with business success, but with his charitable and philanthropic activities which, after a lifetime of business success, Nirmal has now dedicated himself to. His donations include a centre For Robotics at UCL, a Surgical Technology Hub at Imperial College and an Autism Centre in Cambridge, all named after his wife, Chitra. Another of his most notable achievements is his extraordinary and beautiful “Chitra Collection”, the world’s largest and most important collection of tea accessories, dating back to 10th century BC.