Abdul Alimahomed was a newly arrived immigrant from Malawi in 1974, when he first got the idea for his business on a visit to Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park. He noticed the number of people carrying paper and plastic bags of all kinds and decided this was the business to be in. Having linked up with a manufacturer, he began selling bags to corner shops and newsagents from the back of a van he bought for £500. The company, based in Birmingham, now produces 30 tons of paper bags per day, together with plastic carrier bags, black liner bags and transparent plastic bags for fruit and vegetables. Euro Packaging has driven profits up by 83% pa over three years, from £1.5m in 1995 to £9.1m in 1998, while sales increased by 38% pa, to £68m. Financial director Rafiq Nawab attributes the startling growth in profits to economies of scale, aggressive marketing and imaginative product development. For example, the company developed a new dispenser for transparent bags for fruit and vegetables that solved the problem of wastage because bags were difficult to separate and open. It has cut consumption of these bags by two thirds for clients such as Sainsbury and Tesco. With an estimated fortune of £53m, Alimahomed was named the UK’s 26th wealthiest Asian in The Sunday Times Rich List in 2000.
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