KARACHI: Bestway Group Chief Executive, Zameer Choudhry, has been appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty the Queen. Choudhry 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 the UK and abroad.
Choudhry 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, Choudhry 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 Choudhry 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, Choudhry 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 Chaudhry’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, Choudhry 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 Grocery Aid, 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. Chaudhry’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.