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Karan Bilimoria (Cambridge, November 2008)

Karan Faridoon Bilimoria, Baron Bilimoria CBE DL (born 26 November 1961) is an entrepreneur and a life peer. He is best known as one of the two founders and chairman of Cobra Beer.

Contents

Early life

Bilimoria was born in Hyderabad, India of Parsi Zoroastrian descent.[1] He received the Bachelor of Commerce degree from Osmania University; (Indian Institute of Management and Commerce, Hyderabad) in 1981. After working as a chartered accountant for Ernst & Young, he studied for a Bachelor of Arts degree in law at Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge.[2]

Cobra Beer

He founded Cobra Beer in 1989, aiming to create a less gassy lager more suitable for drinking with curry and other foods. In 1999, the company diversified into wine.[3] as of 2006 Cobra Beer has a turnover of £126 million, is sold in nearly 6,000 Indian restaurants, and is available to more than 6,000 bars, pubs and clubs and in supermarkets and off-licences across the UK. On 29 May 2009 the company went into administration, owing an estimated £70 million to suppliers. The company Molson Coors then paid £14 million for a 50.1% share in a pre-pack administration deal, leaving Bilimoria and his partners with the other 49.9%.

On 7 October 2009 Bilimoria claimed that the creditors of Cobra Beer will be repaid out of future profits of the resurrected company. Since, however, in its original manifestation, Cobra Beer only made a single annual profit (of less than £1 million) in 2005, and escalating losses thereafter - and since, furthermore, Molson Coors, the majority owner of the new company, has no moral duty or financial liability whatsoever to past creditors - this seems unlikely.

Business philosophy

Bilimoria professes to be a proponent of socially responsible business, which he says must run right though the company to have any effect. In 2007, he said: "When you talk about the triple bottom line, it is about how you look after your staff. You create an environment where people flourish. You respect them, and you treat your customers and your suppliers equally. A lot of companies worship their customers and bully their suppliers and employees — and make massive profits. Well, I'm sorry that's not my way." This comment should be seen in the context of the circumstances in which Cobra went into its pre-pack administration, leaving its suppliers with losses of £70 million. He had bullied the suppliers, but failed to make the massive profits: a double whammy.

Honours and positions

He received the CBE in 2004 for services to business.[4]

Bilimoria is the Deputy President of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He is also the Representative Deputy Lieutenant for the London Borough of Hounslow. In 2003, Bilimoria was appointed as the UK chairman of the Indo British Partnership (IBP), by the British Government, and serves as founding Chairman of the UK India British Council (UKIBC).

In 2005, he became Chancellor of Thames Valley University — the United Kingdom's youngest university chancellor at the time.[5]

In 2006, he was chosen as a cross-bench life peer with the title Baron Bilimoria, of Chelsea in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea by the House of Lords Appointments Commission, becoming the first-ever Parsi in the House of Lords.[6]

In 2008 he was awarded the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman by the President of India.

Styles and honours

  • Mr Karan Bilimoria (1961–2010)
  • Mr Karan Bilimoria ACA (?–2004)
  • Mr Karan Bilimoria CBE ACA (2004–2006)
  • The Lord Bilimoria CBE DL (2006–)

References

  1. ^ Karan Bilimoria in House of Lords
  2. ^ Biography from dodonline, retrieved 8 September 2006 Not available directly, but available by following the link from House of Lords: Alphabetical List of Members
  3. ^ Corporate Background from Cobra Beer website, retrieved 8 September 2006
  4. ^ The Queen's Birthday Honours List 2004 (PDF, 628 kB), retrieved 8 September 2006
  5. ^ Biography from Thames Valley University website, retrieved 8 September 2006
  6. ^ Cobra Beer Founder Karan Bilimoria Becomes First Ever Parsi in House of Lords, press release from Cobra Beer website, retrieved 8 September 2006
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