1956 – Sir Anwar Pervez, OBE H Pk – Founder & Chairman Bestway Group
1976 – Sir Anwar Pervez & Younus Sheikh On A Supplier Visit
1983 – Bestway Wholesale Customer Sales Campaign
1984 – World’s Largest Coke Display At The Abbey Road Depot Inauguration
1987 – Bestway Foundation UK Established
1991 – Bestway Wholesale Head Office
1993 – Sir Anwar Pervez & Bestway Wholesale Graduate Training Officers
1998 – Bestway’s Investors In People Award
2000 – President of Pakistan Awards Sir Anwar Pervez “Hilal-E-Pakistan” (Crescent of Pakistan)
2001 – Bestway Cement Is Listed On The Karachi Stock Exchange
2005 – Social Responsibility Award At JPMorgan Family Business Honours
2005 – Acquisition of Mustehkam Cement Limited
2005 – Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz Attending Bestway Cement’s Groundbreaking At Chakwal
2006 – E&Y Master Entrepreneur Award
2008 – Lord Zameer Choudrey Conducting A Session At Bestway Cement
2014 – Acquisition of The Co-Operative Pharmacy
2015 – Lord Zameer Choudrey’s CBE Award At Buckingham Palace
2015 – Lord Choudrey Wins The Grocer Cup
2016 – Opening of Sir Anwar Pervez Social Sciences Block At Forman Christian College
2017 – Well Pharmacy wins Corporate Supporter of the Year Award – Life After Stroke Awards
2018 – Presentation of Bestway Annual Ascot Charity Cheque to Great Ormond Street Hospital
2018 – BCL Farooqia Line II Inauguration
2019 – Lord Zameer Choudrey’s Introduction To The House Of Lords
2020 – Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan Inaugurates Sir Anwar Pervez Residency at Namal College
1956 – The Journey
Sir Anwar Pervez made the difficult decision to immigrate to the UK from his ancestral home Thathi, an agricultural village in Pakistan, in the hope of better fortunes. He stayed with other friends who had previously made the journey to the UK and took up a number of jobs, including as a bus conductor in Bradford.
1963 – First Foray Into Retail
Sir Anwar soon realised the road to prosperity was to own his own business and once he had accumulated enough capital he established his first convenience store “Kashmir” in Earl’s Court in London. He was somewhat of a trailblazer and would ensure that his store was open on weekends and in the late evenings for the convenience of his customers. He also introduced a diverse range of products to cater to the broad range of ethnicities in the area. Late nights and weekend trading are commonplace now but this was not the case in the 1960s.
Early 1970s – Retail Expansion & The Seeds of Wholesale
By the early 1970s Sir Anwar’s retail business grew rapidly and he was managing a chain of 10 retail convenience stores across London. He had a loyal customer base who appreciated his high-class service, product range and convenience. As the business grew Sir Anwar became acutely aware of the need for a dedicated team and immediately turned to his family and friends. This led to the introduction of Younus Sheikh to the business, who had recently moved from Pakistan to further his education.
However, as Sir Anwar’s business grew so did his frustration with his wholesale suppliers. He was unwilling to reconcile the fact that he was unable to unlock favourable terms from them in spite of the stellar volume growth he had provided in the ensuing years. It was at this point that Sir Anwar started to look at the mechanics of the wholesale sector more closely.
1976 – Bestway Wholesale is Founded
Sir Anwar and his partners made the decision to enter the wholesale market. At the centre of their thinking was ensuring they were able to operate at a lower margin and provide consistent stock availability to the local independent retailers who would then be well positioned to compete with the large supermarket chains.
In 1976, Bestway Wholesale was established with the mantra “building business for the independents” and the first depot was opened in Acton, London. Sir Anwar and his partners did not look back after that and a period of rapid growth ensued.
1980s – Bestway Wholesale Growth
Throughout the 1980s, Bestway Wholesale grew rapidly and added depots in Southall, Hackney as well as its flagship warehouse in Abbey Road (the Group’s Head Office today).
By the late 1980s Bestway Wholesale had grown into a strong London focused wholesaler with 7 warehouses.
In 1987 the business opened its first warehouse outside of London, in Bristol, with the ambition of evolving from a London centric player into a truly national wholesaler.
1987 – Bestway Foundation UK Established
Following the success of the business and with a strong desire to give back to the community, Sir Anwar and his fellow directors established Bestway Foundation. Bestway Foundation is a charitable trust focused on the health and education sectors. The founders’ desire to focus on health and education stemmed from their own experience of social mobility, the underlying theme of their journeys from Pakistan to the UK, which is now enshrined in their corporate philosophies.
1990 – 2nd Generation Emerges
The first member of Sir Anwar’s family joins the Board of Bestway when his nephew, Lord Zameer Choudrey, who had joined the business in 1984, was appointed Finance Director. Zameer had moved to the UK aged 12 and used to work at his uncle’s shops and later at the warehouses while he was studying and formally joined the business the day after qualifying as a chartered accountant. Under his uncle’s mentorship and through his own hard work, Zameer evolved from a young boy who couldn’t speak English to a successful entrepreneur.
1990s – Continued Growth & Seeds of Diversification
Bestway Wholesale continued to grow in its quest to become a national wholesaler and extended its reach across the UK with warehouses in Leeds, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Cardiff and Swansea.
Lord Choudrey was given responsibility of driving the Group’s diversification agenda and began exploring the possibility of importing rice and other ethnic goods from Pakistan. This culminated in the Group’s first overseas investment through the acquisition of Pak Pearl Rice Mill in Pakistan, led by Younus Sheikh. Concurrently, Bestway Milling (MAP Trading today) was set up in the UK and the Group had officially ventured into the rice business through the creation of the White Pearl and MAP brands.
In recognition of his philanthropic and business efforts, in 1992 Her Majesty the Queen bestowed Sir Anwar with the award of Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE)
1995 – Bestway Cement is Founded
In the early 1990s, Lord Choudrey concluded that the most appropriate sector to diversify into would be cement manufacturing in Pakistan. The rationale behind this decision was that Pakistan was a developing economy and construction requirements would increase and the Group would also be able to play its part in building the country’s future. Lord Choudrey attempted to buy a cement plant through privatisation auctions conducted by the Pakistan Government unfortunately to not avail.
He soon grew frustrated at the inability to conclude the deal and decided that it would be best if the Group were to set up its own cement plant from scratch. In 1995, Bestway Cement Limited was incorporated and completed the ground-breaking of its first cement plant in Hattar, Pakistan. Lord Choudrey was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Bestway Cement Limited. The cement plant became operational in 1998 and was inaugurated by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif.
1997 – Bestway Foundation Pakistan Established
The Directors felt a strong responsibility to give back to the communities they operated in and given they now had a presence in Pakistan they felt it was their duty to set up a charitable trust in Pakistan. The Directors set up Bestway Foundation Pakistan with the same ethos as its UK counterpart with a focus on education and healthcare.
1999 – Sir Anwar Pervez OBE
In 1999 Her Majesty the Queen bestowed a Knighthood on Sir Anwar Pervez.
Early 2000s – Continued Growth
The early 2000s saw continued growth for the Group, recognition of Sir Anwar and further 2nd generation family members joining the business.
In 2000, Sir Anwar’s son, Rizwan Pervez, who joined the business in 1994, was elevated to the Bestway Board as Business Development Director.
In 2000, The President of Pakistan awarded Sir Anwar Pervez with “Hilal-E-Pakistan” (Crescent of Pakistan).
In 2001, Bestway Cement Limited was listed on the Karachi Stock Exchange (Pakistan Stock Exchange)
In 2001, the Group celebrated its 25th anniversary and marked it by opening 9 new warehouses as Bestway Wholesale sought to further penetrate the UK’s regional markets.
In 2002, Group turnover crossed the £1 billion mark.
2002 – Acquisition of United Bank Limited
The Group was buoyed by the success of Bestway Cement Limited as well as its other ventures in Pakistan and were on the search for further investment opportunities. During this time, the Pakistani government was beginning to privatise a number of sectors, including the banking sector.
Lord Choudrey was tasked with leading Bestway’s bid for United Bank Limited, at the time Pakistan’s 4th largest bank.
In October 2002, after a competitive bidding process, Bestway Group entered into a joint venture with His Highness Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al-Nahyan’s Abu Dhabi Group, to purchase a controlling stake in United Bank Limited. At the time, United Bank Limited was Pakistan’s 4th largest bank and had 1,117 branches.
2004 – Board Reshuffle
In July 2004, Sir Anwar Pervez stepped back from day to day operations and assumed the role of Chairman of Bestway Group. Lord Choudrey was promoted to Chief Executive Officer of Bestway Group, whilst Younus Sheikh was promoted to Managing Director of Bestway Wholesale. Dawood Pervez, Sir Anwar’s son, who joined the business in 2002, was appointed to the Board as Company Secretary.
Late 2000s & Early 2010s – Expansion Across All Business Segments
In the late 2000s, each of the businesses continued to go from strength to strength.
In 2005, Lord Choudrey and Younus Sheikh led the acquisition of Batleys Plc, a regional wholesaler based in Huddersfield with 18 warehouses, c.£500 million turnover and a work force of over 1,900. The acquisition meant that Bestway Wholesale had now become the 2nd largest wholesaler in the UK and the largest independent wholesaler in the UK. Bestway Wholesale also undertook further acquisitions in the early 2010s (CJ Lang, Martex & Sher Brothers) to strengthen its presence in Scotland and become a truly national wholesaler.
Bestway Cement looked to expand aggressively in the mid-to-late 2000s.
- In 2005 the ground-breaking ceremony at the company’s 2nd cement plant in Chakwal was performed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shaukat Aziz
- In 2005, the company acquired its 3rd plant, Mustehkam Cement Limited (now Farooqia)
- In 2006, the company’s 2nd plant at Chakwal went into commercial production and was officially inaugurated by the President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf
- In 2008, the company’s 2nd line at its Chakwal site started commercial production
- In 2009, the company’s first Waste Heat Recovery Power Plant became operational at its Chakwal plant
The Group remained focused on turning around the performance of UBL now that it was in private hands. In 2004 UBL’s performance had improved sufficiently for it to pay its first dividend in three decades. The Group continued to concentrate on increasing UBL’s branch network and service metrics. In 2007 the Global Depository Receipts of UBL were listed on the London Stock Exchange. The offering targeted institutional investors and raised in excess of US$ 650 million. Buoyed by the performance of UBL, Lord Choudrey negotiated an agreement for Bestway Group to buy out its joint venture partner Abu Dhabi Group. Bestway purchased an additional 20% stake from its JV partner in 2011 to take control of the bank and the remaining 10.3% stake in 2013.
The Group and its Directors also received recognition for their business achievements over this period:
- In October 2005, Sir Anwar Pervez was awarded the Grocer Cup for Outstanding Business Achievement
- In November 2005, Bestway won the ‘Social Responsibility Award’ at the JP Morgan 2005 Family Business Honours
- In recognition of the Group’s role in the aftermath of the 2005 earthquakes, the President of Pakistan awarded Sir Anwar Pervez the “Sitara-e-Essar” (Star of Sacrifice).
- In October 2006, Sir Anwar Pervez won the “Master Entrepreneur – UK” at the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2006 Awards.
- In November 2011, Sir Anwar Pervez was awarded an honorary Doctor of Law degree by FC College University in Lahore, Pakistan.
- In 2012, the University of Bradford awarded Sir Anwar Pervez an honorary Doctor of Law degree
The Group ensured that as the business prospered, its charitable trust Bestway Foundation was also creating a positive impact.
- In January 2012, the Group funded a Students Sports Arena at the Institute of Business Administration, University of Karachi
- In 2012, Farrah Pervez Girls Degree College, a Bestway Foundation funded degree college dedicated for girls was inaugurated in Thathi, Gujjar Khan Pakistan.
- In 2013, The Bestway Foundation and University of Bradford signed a five-year agreement that committed £250,000 each to jointly fund five annual scholarships.
- In 2013, the Sir Anwar Pervez Boys Hostel was inaugurated at the Institute of Business Administration University in Karachi
2014 – A 4th Pillar
In 2014 the Group was debt free and was actively looking to develop another UK business segment and identified the broader healthcare market as a preferred sector. Led by Lord Choudrey and after a competitive bidding process against private equity firms, Bestway Group purchased The Co-Operative Group’s pharmacy business, and their 4th business pillar. The business employed over 7,000 individuals in the UK and over 800 locations centred around the community and assisting them with their healthcare needs.
The Group was also focused on growing their other business segments and only a couple of weeks later, again led by Lord Choudrey, Bestway Cement Limited acquired Lafarge Cement’s Pakistan operations.
Late 2010s – Continued Expansion Across All Business Segments
In the ensuing years the Group continued to its growth trajectory and in 2018, Bestway Wholesale purchased the brand and assets of Conviviality Retail out of administration, thereby safeguarding more than 2,000 jobs.
Bestway Cement continued to expand over the period and in 2018, a 2nd line at its Farooqia plant became operational.
The Directors furthered the Foundation’s charitable work and received recognition for their business and philanthropic contributions:
- In 2014, Lord Choudrey was awarded an honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree by his alma mater, University of Kent in recognition of his philanthropic services to the community
- In 2015, Younus Sheikh was awarded the “Outstanding Achievement Award” by the Federation of Wholesale Distributors
- In 2015, Lord Choudrey was awarded the Grocer Cup for outstanding business achievement
- In 2015 Her Majesty the Queen bestowed Lord Choudrey with the award of Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE)
- In 2018 the President of Pakistan awarded Lord Choudrey the Sitara-E-Imtiaz (Star of Excellence)
During this time, Bestway Foundation continued to maintain its positive impact.
- In 2015 the Oxford Sir Anwar Pervez Graduate Scholarship was established at the University of Oxford through endowment of £1.3 million
- In 2016 the Bestway Foundation and University of Kent signed a five-year agreement that committed £250,000 each to jointly fund five annual scholarships
- In 2016 the Sir Anwar Pervez Social Sciences Block was inaugurated at Foreman Christian College in Lahore
- In 2018 the Bestway Foundation and NUST Trust Fund signed an agreement to establish the Bestway Scholarship Endowment Fund at the National University for Science & Technology Islamabad
2018 – Group Board Reshuffle
In 2018, the Board undertook another reshuffle. Younus Sheikh decided to step back from day-to-day operations and assumed the role of Chairman of Bestway Wholesale. Dawood Pervez was promoted to the position of Managing Director of Bestway Wholesale. Haider Choudrey, Lord Choudrey’s son and first member of the 3rd generation of the family who joined the business in 2012, was appointed to the Board as Chief Financial Officer. Rabiah Sheikh, Younus Sheikh’s daughter, was appointed Company Secretary of Bestway Group.
2019 – The Lord Choudrey CBE
In 2019 Lord Choudrey was nominated for a life peerage and made Baron Choudrey of Hampstead in recognition of his contribution to Britain’s domestic and foreign trade and his philanthropic work in the UK and abroad.
Early 2020s – Continued Expansion Across All Business Segments
The early 2020s, saw continued growth across each of the Group’s business segments, the entry of the 3rd generation into the business as well as continued recognition of the Group.
Bestway Wholesale continued to consolidate its position within the wholesale sector with a series of acquisitions to complement its network and service offering. In 2021, Bestway Wholesale also purchased the Costcutter brand and business to further complement its offering to the independent retail trade.
Bestway Cement continued to expand over the period and in 2021 it announced plans to commission its 5th plant at Mianwali. It also announced the commissioning of its first solar power plant at its Farooqia plant as well as plans to establish similar solar power plants at all of its cement plant locations.
The Group ensured that as the business was prospering that its charitable trusts Bestway Foundation was also creating a positive impact.
- In 2020, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, inaugurated the Sir Anwar Pervez Residency at Namal College, Mianwali
- In 2021, the Bestway Foundation in partnership with Gonville & Caius College, University of Cambridge, established the £1.3 million Lord Choudrey Scholarship Fund to provide PhD scholarships
Bestway Group has grown from a single warehouse in Acton in 1976 to consist of:
- Bestway Wholesale – the UK’s largest independent wholesaler
- Bestway Cement Limited – Pakistan’s 2nd largest cement producer
- United Bank Limited – Pakistan’s 3rd largest bank
- Well Pharmacy – the UK’s largest independent pharmacy chain
- Bestway Foundation – along the way the Group and its charitable trust have donated more than $40m to worthy causes across the UK and Pakistan
1963 – Kashmir Store – Earls Court, West London
1976 – Bestway Wholesale’s 1st Depot Is Opened in Victoria Road, Acton, London
1983 – Bestway Wholesale & Capital FM Partnership
1984 – Bestway Head Office Photo
1987 – Manchester Depot Opening
1992 – Sir Anwar Pervez’s OBE Award At Buckingham Palace
1995 – Bestway Cement’s Greenfield Site At Hattar
1999 – Sir Anwar Pervez Knighted At Buckingham Palace
2000 – Wholesaler Of The Year Award
2002 – Acquisition of United Bank Limited
2005 – Acquisition of Batleys Plc
2005 – Bestway Annual Charity Race Day, L’arc de Triomphe, Paris
2005 – Bestway Donation To Pakistan’s Earthquake Rehabilitation Efforts
2006 – President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf Attending Inauguration of Bestway Cement’s Plant In Chakwal
2013 – Inauguration of Sir Anwar Pervez Boys Hostel at IBA Karachi
2015 – Chancellor George Osborne Inaugurating Well Pharmacy’s Head Office In Manchester
2015 – HRH Prince Charles Awarding Lord Zameer Choudrey His CBE
2016 – Inauguration of UBL’s Regional Office In Lahore
2016 – Children At Bestway Foundation School Chakwal
2017 – Bestway’s 35th Anniversary
2018 – President of Pakistan Awards Lord Zameer Choudrey “Sitara-E-Imtiaz” (Star of Excellence)
2019 – UBL Receiving A Commemorative Plaque From President of Pakistan, Imran Khan
2019 – Bestway Foundation’s Gold Partner Award From The Duke of Edinburgh Awards
2021 – The Lord Choudrey Scholarship At The University Of Cambridge