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An Industry of Pioneering Entrepreneurs who will Weather the Storm

I am privileged to sit as an Independent Crossbench Peer in the House of Lords, and proud to be the Founder and Chairman of Cobra Beer. From both these positions, I realise that today we are facing some of our greatest challenges in a century, both as an economy and as businesses.

The sub-prime crisis led to the credit crunch, which led to the great recession, the sovereign-debt crisis and the Euro crisis, creating a domino effect and a downward spiral. Into the recession, public spending was approaching 50% of GDP, which was far too high, and this Government rightly wants to cut this high level of expenditure. Neither consumers nor businesses are confident enough to spend.

Taxes are rising - VAT is now at 20% and inflation at 5%, the highest level for many years; consumers are being squeezed from all directions. Lending has frozen for over three years, for both individuals and businesses - banks are just not lending. The Governor of the Bank of England has also voiced his frustration as, even with state control of several of the banks, the Government has failed in its bid to get the banks to lend.

To compound all this, the Government has introduced

extremely tough immigration laws affecting our industry. I cannot understand this decision. The new immigration rules have affected us severely in relation to recruiting skilled staff, particularly chefs. The Government’s plans to cap annual immigration rates at tens of thousands, rather than hundreds of thousands, are going to place huge restrictions on the ethnic restaurant sector. Is this the way we as a nation show our gratitude to an industry that contributes billions of pounds to our economy and employs tens of thousands?

Amidst this doom and gloom, which may only get worse with concerns about a potential double-dip recession, we must ask ourselves as businesses how we can not only survive but also try and grow.

I’m proud to say that at Cobra Beer, we have not let the current atmosphere prevent us from investing in taking our brand forward and growing. This autumn, we have rebranded, released new packaging and there are several more exciting developments ahead of us in the coming months.

Even in this difficult economic environment, Cobra is still

I’m proud to say that at Cobra Beer, we have not let the current atmosphere prevent us from investing in taking our brand forward and growing

Curry & Tandoori | Volume 11 | December 2011

growing as a brand and what we are not doing at all is compromising on the fundamentals. With Molson Coors’ brewing and distribution scale and marketing expertise, we have a fantastic product long recognised for its quality and consistency. The brand has had a wonderful year, winning four gold medals at the 50th anniversary Monde Selection Awards in Brussels this year, bringing our tally to 55 gold medals in ten years.

Throughout our success, curry restaurants have been the bedrock of Cobra’s business. Without your support we would not be where we are. Cobra is now a household name in the UK, our products are sold around the world and we can go from strength to strength in our joint venture with Molson Coors.

It is restaurants that have taught and inspired me and restaurant owners in particular who have taught me the first fundamental lesson in business – the customer comes first, always. Through sheer hard work, dedication and passion, Indian restaurants provide food and service which are enjoyed and keep customers coming back. Enthusiasm, commitment and great value for money, have been the preserve of this industry.

At Cobra Beer, we are proud to play a part in the industry and we will do all we can to support you. In this time of doom and gloom, Indian restaurants can be seen as a ray of sunshine, bringing happiness to their customers and their community. One of my favourite sayings is: “Some people fail because of...and others succeed in spite of”. I believe that our industry will succeed in spite of all our current challenges. BCA every success in these challenging times.

I wish the The Bangladesh Cuisine  19

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