Lancashire entrepreneurs honoured with MBEs

Two business leaders in Lancashire have been named on the 2015 Queen's New Year Honours list.

Remtulla Family Photo

Laila Remtulla, the founder of Red Rose Award-winning Laila's Fine Foods, has been honoured with an MBE  in recognition of services to the food and drink industry, with Tim Webber, chairman and managing director of Nelson-based Barnfield Construction, receiving an MBE for his contribution to business and the community.

Barnfield is actively involved with Pendle Council through the joint venture Pearl (Pendle Enterprise and Regeneration Ltd) 2, which has seen the refurbishment of several housimg terraces in the Whitefield area of Nelson and major ongoing redevelopments in Brierfield, including that at Northlight, the former Brierfield Mills.

He is one of the leading forces behind work to transform Burnley’s Weavers’ Triangle and a member of the Burnley Bondholders’ scheme, promoting the town. Last year, Regenerate Pennine Lancashire appointed him as chairman.

Laila founded her company in 1986, ten years after moving to England from her native Tanzania. Initially a 'hobby' business operating out of her kitchen at home, it began with Laila approaching her local delicatessen and persuading them to purchase her samosas and onion bhajis.

The operation soon grew to fill a small production unit in Blackpool and her company now supplies major supermarkets across the UK, recently securing a multi-million pound deal with Iceland.

Laila's Fine Foods also maintains its own engineering workshop to develop machinery for making its products. The company has grown significantly and now employs 250 staff with annual sales increasing by 25 per cent since 2011. The projected turnover for 2014 is £18m.

Laila is also a business board member of the NSPCC in Lancashire, and oversees food donations to local community sports club, the Fylde Sharks Disability Swimming Club.

Laila said: "When I started, my intentions were not to be where we are now, producing 70,000 meals a day. My children were at school and the business began as something to keep me occupied. I was really happy working part time for the first 10 years and I was there for my girls when they needed me.”

Cooking is in Laila’s blood, her father was a chef as was his father and two of her brothers are also chefs. In 1999 Laila’s husband Nazir joined the company, they achieved their first national contract in spring 2000 and along with their three daughters Zera, Rishma, Natasha have worked hard to steer the company to be the thriving business that it is today.

Laila added: "I am truly honoured and humbled by this accolade, which would not have been possible without my husband and daughters. This country is full of opportunity and I am so grateful to be part of this great nation. It just goes to show that if you put a lot in, you get a lot out.

"To be recognised in this industry is heart-warming and to know that cooking food the way you would want your family to eat it, has brought me here, is amazing."