How diversity and the digital could dig curry houses out of a pickle

Date published: 14 April 2021

Oldham restaurateurs have heard that a decent online presence allied to a proper business and marketing plan will help curry favour with new customers and revive them after COVID.

Hosted by entrepreneur and chair of the British Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce, Bashir Ahmed, the Pathfinder conference gave bosses the vital ingredients to transform their often-traditional eateries into technological on the button businesses.

It also discussed putting more women in pioneering positions in promoting and managing catering concerns.

“The curry industry is worth a staggering £4 billion to the UK economy and employs over 100,000 people,” said Oldham-based Muzahid Khan, co-founder of Pathfinder, a team of technology experts with a passion for helping start-ups and the next generation unlock the opportunities in the innovation economy.

“However, COVID has decimated their earning potential and the rise of cheap delivery companies has meant increased competition.

"It’s so encouraging to see those restaurants open again, but they will need to embrace digital technology such as online marketing and diversify their workforce and offer, if they are going to reclaim old ground.”

The online gathering also heard from Ifty Islam, the Co-founder and Chairman of Infiniti Tech, a UK technology company, and Asian Tiger Capital, a Dhaka-based Investment banking firm.

Litu Mohiuddin, Deputy CEO Pathfinder and Memsahib Gin and Tea Bar owner, described how a Crowdfunder online campaign resulted in a four-month waiting list at his restaurant.

The Cheltenham eatery has made what he said was, “a very simple change process”, extending the range of its menu and where they source their ingredients from, plus making it a sustainable business that recycles and thinks of its environmental footprint.

Litu has opened his recruitment pool wider too and actively sought female staff, and a panel discussion on how women’s empowerment can aid growth in the UK restaurant and catering sector followed.

Committed social equalities campaigner Seema Islam said: “A diverse workforce extends your potential client base.

"People like to see a diverse workforce, too.

"There is a cost saving too, with disabled people well-skilled and much more loyal.”

Muzahid concluded: “The traditional values of hard work and community have made British-South Asian businesses a profitable sector within the economy, a familiar sight on our high streets and a part of the UK’s culture.

"But as with all aspects of business, COVID has turned this on its head.

"It is now up to curry house owners to do something different, think out of the box and embrace the selling techniques of the 21st century – or risk becoming a relic, left behind.”

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