The ex-butcher who knows how to cut it fine

 
Marion Dakers
HAVING started his career in a butcher’s shop in Wolverhampton, Ranjit Singh Boparan has a lifetime of experience in food firms – and knows how to cut things fine.

Boparan’s £342m bid for Northern came two hours after the Takeover Panel’s original deadline of 5pm on Friday, after he negotiated a last-minute extension with the watchdog.

His advisers, Rothschild and Goldman Sachs, had worked into the night for the week leading up to the deadline in order to table a suitable offer for Northern Foods’ board.

Boparan has built his food empire through acquisitions in recent years, and now turns over in excess of £1bn a year.

While his main business lies in supplying poultry products to supermarkets including Tesco, Saisnbury and Marks & Spencer under the name 2 Sisters Limited, he has also found success from bolting on other food firms.

He snapped up the Harry Ramsden’s fish restaurant chain from caterer SSP in 2009, and also owns fish supplier Five Star after rescuing it from administration last March.

According to Boparan Holdings’ latest papers filed with Companies House, the firm made £33.9m profit in the year to August 2009.

A dividend of £12m was paid to the firm’s two directors – Boparan himself and his wife Baljinder.

The couple have featured on the Sunday Times Rich List for several years, with their net worth most recently estimated at £180m.