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PROFILE Rafique


Still hungry for success B


usinessman Rafique Haider is hungry for more success, despite being one of the longest


standing impor ters of


Bangladeshi foodstuffs in the UK. His latest venture is his most ambitious to date: a 27,000 square foot warehouse housing a global impor t and distribution centre bringing in goods from as far afield as Myanmar, Malaysia and Indonesia. Rafique is a familiar figure among London’s Bangladeshi community and the most visible of his businesses is a partnership in Bangla Town Cash and Carry in the East End. The cash and carry recently celebrated 21 years in business catering for a thriving Bangladeshi community at home and in mainland Europe. Rafique, 47, said: “People have a strong emotional attachment to food and it is fortunate that the UK is the distribution hub for the rest of Europe. “I get customers coming from places as far afield as Belgium, Germany, France and Holland as well as locals, shops and restaurants.” The cash and carry is a treasure trove of goods for the casual visitor and imports more than five tonnes of fruit, vegetables, spices and various dry foods every week. Non-Asian shoppers can try cooking with Bangladeshi vegetables, such as Kodu (Wax Gourd), Korola (bitter gourd), yard long beans, aubergines etc or even indulge in the Bengali love of fresh water fish. This piscine passion is evident in the freezer


aisles crammed with an array of fresh and salt water species ranging from the finger sized Mourola to larger carp, catfish and Hilsha. Rafique has shrewdly reduced costs by building 8000 sq ft cold storage in Sylhet with a local partner where the fish and frozen vegetable begin their 5,000 mile journey to the UK via refrigerated shipping containers. He has also developed three brands - Bangla Town, Green Line and Shahjalal - to help customers know they are buying quality goods. He is modest about his success to date, despite recently setting up a public limited company to accommodate his growing business empire. He has also two property companies Bangla Town Property Limited and 3A Boss Limited. A sports enthusiast Rafique Haider is Honorary president of Tower Hamlets Cricket Club. Perhaps his modesty isn’t surprising given one of his inspirations is Anwar Pervez, the billionaire founder of Bestway Cash and Carry. Pervez’s life is the classic rags to riches story of a penniless young immigrant who built his empire from scratch and described ‘work as my hobby’ at the ripe old age of 82. Rafique Haider is a firm believer in making your own luck and that a good idea is worthless unless act upon it. “I was lucky enough to sit next to Lord Sainsbury once and he told me if you can dream something then it is possible … if you really want it. “The problem is most people aren’t prepared


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