Scotland's 'Curry King' Gill is named top Asian entrepreneur

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The Independent Online

Scotland's "Curry King", Charan Gill of the Glasgow-based Harlequin Leisure Group, was named Asian Entrepreneur of the Year last night in an awards ceremony organised by the Eastern Eye newspaper.

Scotland's "Curry King", Charan Gill of the Glasgow-based Harlequin Leisure Group, was named Asian Entrepreneur of the Year last night in an awards ceremony organised by the Eastern Eye newspaper.

Mr Gill, who was born in Punjab, arrived in Scotland in 1963, aged nine. He founded the pubs-to-restaurants and frozen foods group in 1987, after working as a turner and fitter at Yarrow's shipyard on the Clyde.

In 2002, Mr Gill and his business partner launched Ashoka Shak to produce Indian cuisine for retail parks and cinemas. Today, the group runs 17 restaurants, including Scotland's first Curry Karaoke Club.

Mr Gill told The Independent he was pleasantly surprised by the award. "You go into work and someone gives you a trophy for it! It is important to celebrate our community's success - it gives youngsters something to aspire to."

Mr Gill also expressed optimism about Asian businesses in the UK, and dismissed any fear of a backlash because of the offshoring phenomenon that appears to have enveloped British industry.

"Jobs may be going to Asia, but it's important to remember that Asians here are also creating jobs. Our community must continue to work and continue to benefit the wider British population - we have nothing to fear but ourselves," he said.

Mr Gill's leisure group, which employs more than 450 people, has incorporated his property and development business. Harlequin Properties and Harlequin Developments concentrate on luxury conversions and new building properties across Scotland.

The event, at the London Hilton on Park Lane, also honoured the Noon Products chairman Sir Gulam Noon and the fashion designer to the stars, Kal Kaur Rai.

Jojar Dhinsa was applauded as Newcomer of the Year for the success of Athlone, the private equity company, which has earned him an estimated £48m at the age of 28.

Other winners include Ramesh Sachdev, of the Harrow-based nursing home operator Life Style Care, and Zahida Parveen of the Qibla Cola Company, who was awarded the Department of Trade and Industry Innovation award.

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