Two billionaire brothers raised in a terraced house in Blackburn are now taking the reins at one of the UK’s biggest employers after sealing a £6.8 billion deal to buy Asda.
Mohsin and Zuber Issa made their fortunes after successfully transforming their business from one rented petrol station into a network of almost 6,000 forecourts across 10 countries.
Their parents, Vali and Zubeda, moved to the UK in the 1970s to work in the textile industry, moving from Gujarat, India, to Bradford.
They later ran their own petrol station, where the brothers worked as teenagers, before selling it after deciding there was little profit to be made.
After flying the nest, the brothers decided to take a punt of their own, leasing a forecourt for two years before stumping up the £150,000 needed to buy their first site outright in 2001.
The brothers, now 48 and 49, tested their idea for a “better shopping experience” by investing to offer a wider range of fresh food and high-quality produce.
The fledgling business, named Euro Garages before its recent rebrand to EG Group, rapidly expanded as oil companies sought to shed their estates of dated forecourts.
They attracted customers by bringing big food-to-go brands on to their sites, opening the UK’s first Starbucks drive-thru.
EG Group now operates 110 Starbucks stores as well as the largest franchise of KFC stores in the UK, with 125 sites.
By 2015, the company had grown to 376 sites but saw its expansion accelerate further after securing investment from private equity giant TDR Capital – which has backed its Asda deal – and opening international sites for the first time.
EG Group has since expanded into the Netherlands, Germany and the US, but continues to be run from their home town of Blackburn.
Asda’s chief executive officer Roger Burnley told the PA news agency that the pair are “remarkably humble guys” who share the strong local values of the Leeds-based retailer.
“They are very down to earth so I know it is going to be a very good experience working with them,” he said.
“I’ve met with them a lot over the past few weeks and have been really pleased with the things they’ve said, even if they’re from the wrong side of the Pennines.”