Perween Warsi, CBE, is the founder and chief executive of S&A Foods. Her company is one of the UK’s most successful independent food businesses, making up to 1.5 million chilled ready meals a week. Perween began her business after emigrating from India in the 1970s. S&A was a kitchen table start- up, with Perween making samosas on an initial investment of £2.50. She now has a reported net worth of £70 million and is one of Britain’s highest- profile Asian female entrepreneurs.
Warsi was born in Muzaffarpur India in 1956 and moved to the United Kingdom in 1975. She began her business making ethnic finger foods from her kitchen. In 1986, after being appalled by the quality of a supermarket-purchased samosa, she founded S&A foods, winning her first major contract to supply chilled and frozen dishes to Asda and Morrisons stores, having secured the contract via blind tasting. In 1987, S&A Foods was acquired by the Hughes Food Group (which would ultimately go into receivership in 1990), with the resulting investment injection allowing them to open the first S&A Foods factory, in Derby, creating over 100 jobs for the area. In 2015 her company S&A foods based in Derby went into administration due to losing a contract with ASDA, causing all 300 staff members at the company to be made redundant. In 2016, she started working as a consultant to owner managed businesses in the food sector. She is also a member of Derby City Council’s Renaissance Board, which promotes economic development in the area.