British-Indian 'Chicken King' facing mounting debts

PTI Posted online: Sunday, Dec 01, 2013 at 0000 hrs
London : A British-Indian entrepreneur, known as the "Chicken King" for his vast poultry business, is facing mounting debts as his company is reportedly struggling to modernise.

Ranjit Boparan is credited with expanding his 2 Sisters Food Group from a single shop into one of Britain's biggest poultry supplier.

With an estimated personal fortune of 190 million pounds, Boparan along with his wife Baljinder now runs a 3 billion pound empire that supplies pork, fish, ready meals, pizzas, frozen vegetables and biscuits along with chicken.

The 2 Sisters Group has 24,000 employees and 50 factories and is one of the main suppliers to every supermarket and fast-food chains in Britain.

However, Boparan's business may be under threat from mounting debts, up from 534 million pounds last year to 567 million pounds this year, the Sunday Times newspaper reported. The company has incurred a 33.5 million pounds loss, down from last year's 42.5 million pounds profit.

"Some experts argue that in his pursuit of sales, Boparan has sacrificed the ability to make profits by buying too many loss-making businesses. The company's ageing factories are suffering too. Several have been earmarked for closure and many need revamping," the report said.

The company, however, rejected suggestions of any financial trouble.

"The results were in line with expectations. We faced an unprecedented operational environment, including inflation, commodity price increases, poor harvests and the horsemeat scandal," a company spokesperson said.

The firm plans to launch 100 new products and believes its fortunes will improve by the second half of next year, the spokesperson added.