It is big news in the £500 billion Indian curry industry in the UK. The Pathaks, Kirit and wife Meena, are reportedly selling their thriving empire of Indian readymade food and spices marketed under brand name Pathak's and distributed in 75 countries.
Their curry business, with a turnover of over £70 million, is being estimated to be worth £200 million. The likely sale of their empire, or part of it, was first hinted at in the Times. But the family has refused to comment.
It took the market by surprise. Kirit's father, the late Lachman Pathak who had sued PV Narasimha Rao for alleging that he and Chandraswami had defrauded him, started with making snacks in a small kitchen. But then he nurtured it so astutely that the brand Patak's became a world-known brand. The present thinking is that Patak's could grow fast and reach a turnover of £500 million.
Both Meena Pathak and Kirit were awarded OBEs for their services to the food industry. More adventurous of the two, Meena Pathak had revealed that she used to take several top chefs around the world to India every year to taste different spices and regional cuisines. She is credited with adding a new high-tech plant to the string of Patak's factories.
Industry insiders say that either the husband and wife duo want to emerge as global players, which may not be possible on their own, or because of a long-running legal dispute with Kirit?s sisters who have demanded shares. Last October, Kirit settled the lawsuit by his two sisters out of court.
Interestingly, the company celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Allegedly NM Rothschild, big investment bank, has been engaged "to carry out a review of strategic options for the firm in an effort to capitalise on an expected boom in demand for Indian ready meals and cooking ingredients".
The review by Rothschild will reportedly dwell on either one of Patak?s partners acquiring a stake in the business or a sale in which the family be part of the business. Apart from Chicken Tikka Masala Curry (CTNM in Britain), which is considered a national dish, Indian food is the fourth most popular cuisine.
The other major Indian food manufacturer Sir Gulam K Noon, with a turnover of over £80 million, said he was not surprised at the news of the Pathaks trying to sell.