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3 March 2019

Cash-and-Carry king curries favour with Hollywood

How I made it Frank Khalid Founder of Elbrook Cash & Carry

After Frank Khalid had made a success of his cash-and-carry business, he bought an unusual plaything — a movie studio. Staff at West London Film Studios quickly realised that they should not tell him who was filming there lest the cast be disturbed by the excitable proprietor.

“They know I’m celebrity crazy,” Khalid laughed. One day he turned up at the studios unannounced and bumped into Hollywood star Bradley Cooper.

Khalid has other side interests, including owning an award-winning curry restaurant as well as a shareholding in Touch Sky group, a sports agency.

He also struck a deal with actor Mark Wahlberg and rapper P Diddy to be the British distributor of Aquahydrate, a water brand they co-own, last year.

Elbrook Cash and Carry made sales of £62.9m and pre-tax profits of £2m in the year ending July 2017, according to its latest filed accounts.

The child of Pakistani immigrants, at the age of 15 Khalid dropped out of Rokeby School in Newham, east London - where he was a classmate of the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen. "I didn't do any qualifications, I was more interested in business," he said.

It was 1984, and he managed to get a £60,000 bank loan - secured against his uncle's house - to buy out of liquidation a nearby cash-and-cary store.

"In those days you could go to a bank - with an adult - and just talk about your passion," he said.

Growth was so rapid that he moved from Stratford to a bigger site in Barking within one year. He bought a second site, in Mitcham, south London, in 1993.

Discovering that his second son, Imran, was autistic forced Khalid to reflect, and he eventually sold the Barking branch so he could spend more time with his family. He also started holding dinners in aid of autism charities.

The cash-and-carry business specialises in selling beer, wine and spirits. In 2003, Khalid opened his own curry house next door.

"I'm a Muslim, and my wife Sajida asked me to do something that didn't involve alcohol," Khalid said, although diners can bring their own drinks to Chak89.

A chance meeting with Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan helped supercharge the restaurant business.

"As soon as I mentioned my son, he could relate to that because he had a sister with a disability," Khalid said.

Khan fronted TV adverts on Asian channels despite Khalid's inability to pay him the going rate.

The restaurant has since been frequented by the likes of Sir Mo Farah, Lindsay Lohan and players from Khalid's beloved Chelsea FC.

In 2013 Khalid was named "curry king of the year" at the English Curry Awards, which came as a boon for Khalid because he admitted: "I can't even make toast".

In 2005, he bought a film studio in Hayes, west London as he wanted to do something different. "If you want a quiet life, it's probably not the best thing," he said.

Recent hits that have been filmed there include the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody and Stan & Ollie, the Laurel and Hardy movie.

Khalid has about 60 staff and owns a majority stake in Elbrook. His brothers, Amjad and Shimshad, hold small stakes. He and his wife have four grown-up children and live in the Essex village of Great Warley.

Khalid, 50, who is an ambassador for Prince Charles's British Asian Trust, said entrepreneurs should slways try to give back. "If you are a good person and help as many people as you possibly can, you'll be rewarded."

Source: The Sunday Times