Mr Choudrey was awarded his CBE as part of the Queen’s New Year 2016 Honours List in recognition of his contributions to advancing Britain through his services to the UK Wholesale industry and the wide array of philanthropic work he passionately engages in both in the UK and abroad.
Mr Choudrey appreciates the significance of this appointment, saying: “I cannot begin to express how honoured I am to have been included by the Queen in her New Years Honours List. It gives me great pleasure to be recognised for my contributions in this manner. These honours represent everything that makes Britain great reinforcing how it doesn’t matter where you have come from, what matters is your work ethic and the impact you can make. It shows what matters is that you contribute and you help to make Britain even better, something many immigrants do on a daily basis across the nation.”
He continued: “At Bestway, we strive to sit at the heart of local communities throughout Britain, servicing them and supporting them however we can – whether that be by providing food and drink to local shopkeepers through our Wholesale business, or providing medicines and health services through Well Pharmacy, or whether that be by providing support to those in need through Bestway Foundation and its charitable work.”
Having graduated in Accountancy from the University of Kent in 1981, Mr Choudrey joined Bestway in 1984 as Financial Controller, before being appointed to the role of Chief Executive for Bestway Group in 2004. During his tenure as Chief Executive of the Group, Mr Choudrey has led the group to invest almost £300m into the UK wholesale and retail sectors. He has overseen the takeovers of Batleys, Martex, Bellevue and most recently Sher Brothers in addition to establishing a greater footprint for Bestway in England and Scotland. His latest acquisition of Co-op Pharmacy – the UK’s third largest retail pharmacy group which has since been rebranded to Well Pharmacy – was finalised in a deal worth £620m in October 2014 and has set the company on yet another pathway to growth.
Overseas, Mr Choudrey has led the expansion of Bestway Group to become the largest producer of cement in Pakistan and has also spearheaded the spectacular rise of Bestway-owned United Bank Limited (UBL) to become Pakistan’s second largest private bank.
He has been responsible for transforming Bestway from a predominantly UK wholesale business with turnover of £1.1 billion and EBITDA of £47 million in 2004, into an organisation with diverse global interests that generate turnover of £3.4 billion, EBITDA of £340 million and employs 33,700 people globally (12,000 of which are in the UK).
Under Mr Choudrey’s leadership, Bestway Group now consists of the UK’s 2nd largest independent wholesaler (Bestway Wholesale), the UK’s 3rd largest retail pharmacy (Well Pharmacy – formerly The Co-Operative Pharmacy), Pakistan’s largest cement producer (Bestway Cement Limited) and Pakistan’s 2nd largest private bank (United Bank Limited). Bestway is the UK’s 17th largest private company.
And alongside all of this, Mr Choudrey has always been a firm believer in giving back to the community and is renowned for his philanthropy and voluntary roles, sitting as a trustee on a number of charities including Crimestoppers and GroceryAid, in addition to playing a leading role in the Advisory Council at the British Asian Trust set up by Prince Charles as part of the Prince’s Trust.
He is a founding trustee of Bestway Foundation UK and the chairman of Bestway Foundation Pakistan. The Group donates 2.5% of its annual profits to the Foundation for worthy causes both in the UK and overseas, with a particular focus on two areas close to Mr. Choudrey’s heart – health and education.
In the UK, Bestway Foundation has set up a number of scholarships for underprivileged students, giving them the opportunity to improve their lives by gaining a quality education. Only this year, Zameer announced that Bestway Foundation had teamed up with University of Oxford to create a £1.8 million endowment fund which will provide financial support to two deserving graduate students from Pakistan every year to study at Oxford.
Overseas, the Foundation has prioritised providing basic care and resources in deprived communities. This has included the building of schools, setting up health units that provide free healthcare and clean drinking water initiatives.
2016 is an important milestone for the business itself as Bestway celebrates its 40th anniversary, and in some ways this appointment aptly sums up how far the business and Mr Choudrey himself have come.
Zameer Choudrey’s Career:
1) Zameer Choudrey graduated from the University of Kent at Canterbury and is a Fellow of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales.
2) He joined Bestway as Financial Controller in 1984 and played a key role in the expansion of the Group’s wholesale business through a variety of acquisitions.
3) In 1990 Mr Choudrey was appointed the Finance Director of Bestway Group. During the mid 1990s he was assigned the task of business diversification by the Board of Directors and spearheaded the business’ move into cement manufacturing. In 1995 he was appointed Chief Executive of Bestway Cement, a business that was set up from scratch.
4) In October 2002 having led the acquisition of United Bank Limited (UBL), Mr Choudrey was appointed to the Board of UBL. In January 2011, Bestway Group led by Mr Choudrey increased its shareholding in UBL to 51% by acquiring an additional 20% of the shares from its JV partners, the Abu Dhabi Group at a cost of US$230 million. In December 2013, the Group acquired an additional 10.3% from the Abu Dhabi Group at a cost of US$120 million.
5) In July 2004 Mr Choudrey was promoted to the position of Chief Executive of Bestway Group.
6) In January 2005 Mr Choudrey spearheaded the £100 million acquisition of Batleys Limited which added an additional 18 depots to Bestway’s wholesale operations.
7) In 2014, Mr Choudrey also led the acquisition of The Co-operative Pharmacy by Bestway Group in the UK for £620 million and the acquisition of Lafarge Cement by Bestway Cement in Pakistan for an enterprise value of $329 million.
8) This latest appointment comes just weeks after Mr Choudrey beat off stern competition from the CEOs of Aldi, Lidl and Britvic when he was awarded the prestigious Grocer Cup.
Zameer Choudrey’s Philanthropy and Voluntary Roles:
1) From 1992 to 2002, Mr Choudrey was a Governor of John Kelly Boys and Girls Schools (now Crest Academy)
2) Between 2004 and 2008, Mr Choudrey had the privilege of serving on the Economic Affairs Committee of the Confederation of British Industry and was an advocate of issues faced by small businesses.
3) Mr Choudrey joined the Board of Crimestoppers Trust in April 2009 and chaired a forum to help police create a better working relationship with the Asian retailing community.
4) In March 2010 Mr Choudrey became a Trustee of GroceryAid
5) In May 2010 Mr Choudrey was appointed Vice Chairman of Pakistan Britain Trade & Investment Forum. His role is of a trade envoy responsible for fostering and deepening the historical trade links.
6) In October 2011 Mr Choudrey became a member of HRH Prince of Wales Pakistan Recovery Fund’s international leadership team.
7) Having received recognition for his exemplary leadership skills for his work with the Prince of Wales Pakistan Recovery Fund, in April 2013 Mr Choudrey was invited by the British Asian Trust to join their UK Advisory Council.
8) In August 2013 Mr Choudrey was appointed as the first co-chairman of Conservative Friends of Pakistan (CFoP). The CFoP is a pioneering endeavour championed to deepen the bonds between Pakistani and British communities.
9) In October 2014, Mr Choudrey was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Kent in recognition of his contribution to services to public life and business.
10) Mr Choudrey is also a trustee of The Bestway Foundation which administers the charitable donations of the Bestway Group. The group is committed to donating 2.5% of its annual profits to charitable and worthy causes.