Amjad Pervez awarded honorary doctorate from University of Bradford

AN entrepreneur who went from a corner shop to cash and carry king has been has been awarded with an honorary doctorate.

Bradford’s Amjad Pervez, who owns one of the UK’s largest cash and carry/food retailer chains, the Seafresh/Adams Group, has received the Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University of Bradford.

The university presented the accolade for “his valuable and continuous support for the City of Bradford, to the University and for internationally championing a culture of enterprise”

Looking back on his youth, Amjad recalls: “When I first came to Bradford I was fascinated, imagine somebody coming from a village environment in Punjab and you come to an urban bustle. In the 60s, Bradford was the epicentre. It was one of the most thriving cities that I’d known. It was very exciting.  “It was a welcoming environment which allowed us to grow and become stakeholders in society. Bradford has a long history of welcoming immigrants and I think that is one of its strengths.”

Mr Pervez completed his A Levels at college and graduated from the University of Huddersfield with a degree in business and marketing in 1983.  He found work with Yorkshire Building Society but soon joined the family business, a humble corner shop, with dreams of becoming his own boss.  “I enjoyed my work at the Yorkshire Building Society,” he said. “I don’t know what it was about me, I didn’t like hierarchical structures, the reports and wait again and be given the greenlight. I was a very impatient man, I wanted to do things, I wanted to change the world.  We saw a double fronted shop and we took the risk. It came together.”

In the late 80s, the businessman was mentored by Jason Fuller of Fullers Foods who told him about the growing food services industry.  More families were choosing to eat at restaurants or buy package holidays so the businessman took a risk – his mantra to aspiring entrepreneurs in today’s world.

The father-of-six, who also has 10 grandchildren, said: “Invest in good, honest friends because they are difficult to find. In your chosen sphere, find someone who is much more experienced to guide you. Why? Because such people will help and support you when you make mistakes.  I would say to young people do not be afraid of making mistakes. So long as you are not reckless or foolish, when you are young and you have bounce and energy, that’s the time to make mistakes. I have made many and learned from them. Take risks, be audacious in your aspirations; it’s not the lack of education that limits people, it is imagination. Remember, you are the privileged few who got to this stage. There are others who are less fortunate.”

In a city known for its business-minded population, Mr Pervez thinks there is a culture of “entrepreneurialism”.  “I think the culture of Bradford is that we don’t envy people. We have success but we’re not jealous of success. If you see somebody with a nice car we don’t all go scratch it or get jealous. We go up to them and say well done. That culture of success and hard work, it’s the Yorkshire thing; that grit, it’s being hard working. That’s what created it.  We’ve got some really good businesses and in the history we’ve got some of the best names. Our youngsters are starting this chai craze. There’s entrepreneurialism.”

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