Corner shops: 'I won't follow in my dad's footsteps. It gets a bit tiresome'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Since he moved from Gujarat in India to London in 1977, the newsagent Mahendra Jadeja has been a Thatcherite model of hard work and enterprise.

A qualified civil engineer, the 48-year-old, who has two children, quickly established himself as one of the rising stars in the sales team of the Comet chain of electrical stores before turning self-employed.

In 1985, he bought a newsagent's in Winchmore Hill, north London, which stocks about 2,500 titles and is boosted by a lucrative money transfer facility.

Last year, the endeavours of Mr Jadeja, the son of an Indian government officer, were recognised when he was named by the business magazine Asian Trader as Newsagent of the Year.

He and his wife, Manharba, rent out two flats and own a linen-importing business. They have put both their children though private education and plan to retire in five years. But they are realistic about the prospects of handing the newsagent's to their 22-year-old son, Sameer, a business and computer studies graduate from Aston University in Birmingham, or their 19-year-old daughter, Devyani, who is studying business and sociology at Kingston University in west London.

Mr Jadeja, who rises at 3.30am to start a 15-hour day, said: "Both my children worked in the shop from an early age, serving customers and learning basic skills in buying, selling and banking. They know the importance of sheer hard work."

He added: "If they wanted to take over the business I would hand it to them tomorrow but I think that is unlikely. They are both very independent-minded young people."

Sameer is due to start an IT posting in the Middle East in the coming months, having worked as a product innovation manager for BT during university. He said: "I don't think I will be following in my dad's footsteps. There is a lot of hard work and effort involved in what he has achieved.

"I have helped out in the shop from a young age, as have most second-generation children. It gets a bit tiresome and now there are a lot of other opportunities. We are very appreciative of what our parents have gone through and I have spoken to them about my future. They would back me in whatever I chose."

Sameer, who gained 10 GCSEs and three A-levels at the independent Mill Hill school in north London, hopes in 10 to 15 years to run his own business.

He said young Asians were considering a wider spectrum of careers after concentrating largely on medicine and pharmacy in the past. "It is not as clear-cut as it used to be. People I know are aiming for anything from law to optometry," he said.