Many people associate the UK's Pakistani community with small corner shops but few may realise that the suppliers of these outlets are often Pakistanis as well. The wholesale trade has proved a successful and lucrative market for the Pakistani community who, have established some of the largest trade outlets in the country.
An example of the drive and perseverance it takes to establish such a business is the Suleman family in Glasgow. Mohammad Suleman arrived in the UK on the 1st April 1961, but even before he arrived in the UK he had already shown his capacity for hard work by starting his own wholesale clothing business in Pakistan when he was just 16.
He first worked, when he arrived in Huddersfield, as a coalman for three years and then opened a grocery store servicing the Asian community. In 1972 he moved to Glasgow and started a grocery business for the indigenous community. By this time his sons, Imtiaz and Riaz had arrived to help their father in the business.
In 1976 the family opened M. Suleman and Co at 8-10 Coburg Street, Glasgow which was involved with wholesale clothing. The company operated successfully for two years before expanding to their present premises in 1978. They decided to extend the range of goods available in their new outlet and to include a hardware and fancy goods department which also proved to be a great success. By 1980 the family owned one of the largest cash and carry's in Scotland.
It should be remembered that all of this was achieved in a few years which is another indication of the level of achievement and amount of effort building up and developing this business had taken. 1980 saw the family open the House of Sulemsn business which has also been tremendously successful.
Riaz Ahmad, younger brother of Imtiaz is also now involved in helping run the business. He runs the clothing department while Imtiaz runs the electrical, DIY, Gardening, Fancy goods, hardware and household goods sections.
Imtiaz Suleman believes that the secret of the company's success has been their personal and friendly service, policy of supplying strictly to trade, extensive stock and competitive prices, all in one location.
At present the family have no intention of expanding or diversifying further, being quite content to continue their successful operations.
Imtiaz Suleman believes that there should be unity in the Pakistani community. There is also the advantage of a forum for the discussion of business development which would help to co-ordinate effort. Support, in the form of information and advice would allow more rapid growth and change within our community and, hopefully, gain some business advantage.
Aside from these benefits the community would also gain from meeting and discussing problems and successes rather than letting misinformed rumours from the basis of our communications. He also believes that whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly and without hypocrisy.