Cofresh Founder Dinesh Patel passes away at 81

Tributes have been paid after it was revealed that Dinesh Patel, the founder of Indian snacks company Cofresh, passed away at the age of 81.

Cofresh Founder Dinesh Patel passes away at 81 f

The company had a turnover of £52.5 million in 2022.

The founder of Leicester-based Indian snacks company Cofresh has passed away.

Dinesh Patel passed away at the age of 81 at home, surrounded by his immediate family and his siblings.

He is survived by his wife Savita, sons Priyesh and Minesh, daughter-in-laws Divya and Darshana, and four grandchildren.

Mr Patel initially launched Cofresh in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1965, producing crisps and popcorn for local cinemas, shops, colleges and schools.

After moving to the UK in the 1970s, he and his wife invested their life savings in a disused fish and chip shop in Leicester.

They lived above the shop, using the fryers to make spicy peanuts and green peas.

They packed them by hand and sold them to Asian working men’s clubs, shops and pubs.

The business quickly became a household name and the couple were soon joined by his brothers and in the late 1990s by his sons, with Priyesh going on to lead the business as its managing director.

Cofresh turned into a multimillion-pound business, selling its Bombay mix, spicy mix, chickpeas, chilli chips and other products in all the major UK supermarkets.

The company had a turnover of £52.5 million in 2022.

A healthier Eat Real range was launched a few years ago and Cofresh sells products in 60 countries.

In 2020, Cofresh was sold to Vibrant Foods.

Despite the changes, Mr Patel continued to visit the Leicester factory every day and helping on the packing lines until November 2022.

Cofresh Founder Dinesh Patel passes away at 81

In the summer of 2020, Mr and Mrs Patel purchased Barnsdale Hall Hotel, on the banks of Rutland Water, before renovating it and renaming it Rutland Hall Hotel and Spa.

The Times recently picked it out as one of Britain’s 100 best places to stay for 2023.

At the time of the purchase, the couple said:

“We fell in love with it the moment we saw it, and are incredibly excited to have the opportunity to take it to the next stage of its development and journey.”

At 70, Mr Patel and his wife climbed part way up Mount Kailash in India, reaching a height of 5,800 ft, and at the age of 73, he skydived for Leicester’s LOROS Hospice – a charity which was close to his heart.

Tributes have been paid to Mr Patel following his death.

Kamlesh Purohit, acting managing editor of BBC Radio Leicester, said Mr Patel had been a “truly remarkable person”.

He said: “I have not met a more humble, generous, and kind-hearted man than Shri Dineshbhai Patel – the founder of the Cofresh Snack Foods and owner of the beautiful Rutland Hall Hotel.

“I’m proud that my family was able to share the early part of the Cofresh journey back in the early 1970s and watch how he faced the struggles and challenges of setting up a new business head-on with an unparalleled determination and vision and turning it into a multimillion-pound business.

“And having adopted my mum as a sister, he was always Dineshmama to us.

“What a fantastic role model he has been to the British Asian community, and the legacy he has passed on to his amazing sons Priyesh bhai and Minesh.

“This is a monumental loss for the entire nation.”

Leicester businessman Uday Dholakia said he was deeply saddened by news of the death.

He said: “A thoroughly humble human being, grounded industrialist, a wise consul, a generous and affectionate man.

“A passage in time, full of memories, achievements against odds, humility in abundance and profound vivacity for progress. A loss to me of a great mentor and revered elder statesman.”

Dhiren is a journalism graduate with a passion for gaming, watching films and sports. He also enjoys cooking from time to time. His motto is to “Live life one day at a time.”

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