Page 2: The product
Patak’s was set up by the father of the current Chairman and Chief Executive, Kirit Pathak, in the late 1950s. On his arrival in the UK from Kenya, LG Pathak began by selling samosas from home to raise sufficient capital to buy his first small shop in North London in the late 1950s. The business expanded with the introduction of other products, including pickles and chutneys, as orders from small shops, housewives and students flooded in and Patak’s fame spread.
Kirit Pathak joined his father’s expanding company in 1970 and, with his wife Meena, who heads up product development, has spearheaded the company’s rise to the number two position within the UK’s Indian food sector. Patak’s supplies products to well over 90 per cent of the Indian restaurants in the UK, underlining its authenticity and Indian heritage.
Patak’s products are also available nationwide through independent grocers and major supermarket chains. In addition to being the No.2 brand in the UK grocery market, Patak’s is the most readily available brand on an international basis, being marketed in over 40 countries.
Patak’s ingredients are selected and imported from India and around the world, under Kirit Pathak’s personal supervision and blended under the direction of Meena Pathak. Meena, a qualified chef and expert on Indian cuisine, also takes personal responsibility for overseeing all recipe development. At the end of 1999, Patak’s held the dominant share of the UK’s Indian pastes market with 67 per cent of the market (its value share was growing at 35 per cent per annum). To understand the roots of this success we need a brief outline of Patak’s history to understand the organisation’s domination of the market is based on an ability to provide the most authentic Indian pastes in the market.
Patak’s has expanded quickly from employing six people in 1978 to 400 in 1999 and by increasing its turnover from £5 million in 1988 to in excess of £40 million by 1999. In 1994, the company acquired a food factory in Brechin, Scotland and, in 1997, a frozen food company in Dundee. This enabled the company to meet consumer needs for authentic canned, ambient and frozen Indian sauces, meals and accompaniments including breads,
pickles and chutneys.
In the modern business world we tend to associate rapid growth with the major established public companies like the soap powder giants Procter & Gamble and Unilever, or Coca-Cola from the soft drinks and beverages sector. It therefore came as a surprise to many in the marketing industry when the private company Patak’s won the award for the fastest growing grocery brand in 1993 and became the only company to feature in the top 20 fastest growing grocery brands over four consecutive years. This achievement demonstrates that there is still scope for the family-run business which combines knowledge of product with an understanding of market conditions.