A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Ballward's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Ballward is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles
Highlighting best practice
Pooja and VipulKotecha
Ugandan-born and of Indian ancestry, Suresh Ramal
Kotecha brought his family to the UK after General Idi
Amin expelled all Indians from Uganda in 1972. With
firm resolve, Suresh developed a skill for trading maize and
brown raw sugar with the likes of Philipp Brothers in London as
a commodity dealer. It was with this skill set that Suresh set up
Ballward Limited in 1988 when he was approached by an Indian-
based business to arrange shipment of calcined petroleum coke.
As always, the journey of Ballward and the Kotecha family was
always changing, as Vipul – Suresh’s son – elaborates.
A turbulent journey
In our earlier days, the growth of electric arc furnaces in the UK for scrap steel saw
a demand for electrodes (finished product made from calcined petroleum coke),
so we started the importation and distribution of these electrodes to the UK and
Scandinavian steel industries. Business was steady, but my father’s aspirations grew
into textiles, eventually turning us into one of the largest importers and distributors
of man-made yarns to the weaving industry in the UK, with further operations in
Portugal and Italy. We also began in the trade of spun cotton yarns for knitting,
knitted fabrics made to M&S standards as well as fully factored garments for
companies such as Initial and BHS.
The 2008 recession, however, saw a fall in sales of knitted fabrics and garments,
as the consumer was inclined to spend on necessities rather than luxuries. This
resulted in the closure of most of Ballward’s interests in textiles. Nevertheless,
»Managing Director:
»Established in 1988
»Based in Wembley, Middlesex
»Services: Commodities and
»No. of staff: 4
»Ballward operate
UK developments
we maintain our status as the face
and marketing arm of Siyaram’s,
India for sales of polyester blended
fabrics in the UK to this day. As
most manufacturing of structured
garments, such as suits and tailored
trousers, is now based in the Indian
sub-continent and the Far East,
Ballward’s role is to work closely
with the retailers’ buying teams
and designers in the UK, with
the support of a Mumbai-based
Along with his sons – Hitul and
myself – my father set up Altonpride
Limited to support the importation
and distribution of spices from India.
A strong relationship with India’s
second largest exporters of spices
– the Jayanti Group (a vertical set-
up with farming, processing and
packing interests) – Altonpride initially
engaged in the sales of bulk spices to
UK packers and end users. A strong
demand for fully factored wholesale
or retail self-ready packs from UK
retailers encouraged Altonpride, with
the support from Jayanti, to start
offering SRP for grinders, PET glass
bottles and a “one-stop shop” for the
retailers to support their offerings to
the consumer. Even after the loss of
his younger son, Hitul (my brother), in
2007, my father continued his support
for me to continue the business, which
today is servicing the likes of Co-op,
Aldi, Iceland and many other UK
The support of third-party warehousing
and a Wembley-based office has
gained us respect from retailers in
the UK, thus enabling us to enjoy
an organic growth. Our goal is to
ensure our customers are given the
best service, with the right quality,
at the best price, direct from source.
Our principal backward integration
programmes on critical spices give
comfort to our customers, since they
know that our herbs and spices are fit
for purpose and fully traceable.
Strong diversification
In due course, two more companies
were formed, both property
investments, with Sandkot Limited
being the oldest and Shayko Limited
being the youngest of the family
group companies. A simple formula
of buying ex-council flats in west and
northwest London to take advantage
of the rental yields was the primary
focus – with an appreciation on the
property value being a recent bonus.
All flats were refurbished in a scalable
fashion, meaning that all our flats
undergo similar refurbishments; for
example, they have the same carpets,
bathrooms, wall paints and kitchen
fittings. This way, the refurbishment
and maintenance costs were static.
Further interests grew in the
residential building of Shayko House
in Wembley, Kotecha House in
Suresh Kotecha
Ballward’s role
is to work
closely with
the retailers’
buying teams
and designers
in the UK
Highlighting best practice
Harrow and Kotecha Heights in High
Wycombe. We also plan to have
Kotecha Court added to the portfolio
in the coming year. Ultimately, I’m
proud of what we, as a family, have
achieved, and I’ve always believed
bricks and mortar to be the safest
long-term option to invest in. The use
of local management agents has also
ensured that day-to-day issues are
addressed and do not take up much
of our time.
A future built on strong
My father unfortunately passed
away in 2017, leaving behind a
strong foundation for the family to
continue working on. His daily work
is now covered by my wife Pooja,
and the group operations by me. My
daughter, Shivani, also joined the
business as an intern for a year, and
she has aspirations of building on the
foundations set by her grandfather
after she graduates in2019.
Being a UK-based family business
covering the housing, chemicals, food
and clothing industries, it’s true to
say that the group has “fingers in
many pies”. Nevertheless, as a group,
we’ve managed and maintained our
respect and support for our suppliers,
the trust of our customers, and, more
importantly, a shared vision of “being
the best at what we do”.
Future challenges have always been
at the backs of our minds, but we
approach business on a day-to-day
basis. Issues with Brexit will, I am sure,
see a fall in rental yields and a fall in
housing prices, but that’s all part of
an adjustment. We firmly believe that
there will be a fall in business in the
coming years with the uncertainty
of where we stand with Europe and
the world. With that said, in the long
term, the UK will always be a safe bet.
We’ve enjoyed good times so far, and
perhaps a recalculation is good for the
long run.
Despite our businesses attracting
interest in the USA, with Altonpride
having a presence in New York, the
UK will always be home. Current
issues have seen our business suffer
due to the exchange rate, as buying
raw materials in US dollars and
supporting sales in sterling have
proven to be challenging over the
years. However, we have overcome
this by smart hedging and by
encouraging our suppliers to offer us
sales in sterling, thus eliminating any
currency exchange issues. As daily
costs are increasing, including bank
interest rates, we are nonetheless
confident that the businesses will
see through the downturn, as food
and housing – and, by extension,
companies like Ballward – will always
be needed.
We’ve managed
and maintained
our respect and
support for our
suppliers, the
trust of our
customers, and,
importantly, a
shared vision of
‘being the best
at what we do’
Shivani Kotecha

This article was sponsored by Ballward. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy