"We are facing new challenges under the current climate"
Lord Rami Ranger represents an incredibly inspiring Indian entrepreneur and businessman in the UK who has lived the ultimate rags to riches story.
Lord Ranger also known as Dr Raminder Ranger, was born in July 1947 in Gujranwala, in India, pre-partition. This was two months after his father was assassinated. Leaving his mother in charge of him and his siblings.
His family then migrated to Patiala during partition, where he did his schooling. After going to Mohindra College, obtained a BA degree from the Govt College in Chandigarh.
Lord Ranger then arrived in the UK and in 1971 studied Law at the Bar.
His life then took him towards starting his first business with £2 capital and a £40 typewriter and a desk given to him by his first customer. He started trading from a rented storage space from Abbey Self Storage in Hayes, Middlesex.
In August 1987, Sea, Air & Land Forwarding, an in-house logistics company was created. In 1995, his second company Sun Mark was created, which was known as ‘Sun Oil’ at the time, today exports British supermarket products worldwide.
In 1999, Pure Heaven a drinks brand and Golden Country a grocery products brand were added to the Sun Mark portfolio.
Both companies are part of the hugely successful multi-million pound Sun Mark group, which today operates in over 130 countries and has offices in London, Dubai, Djibouti and Nigeria.
Lord Ranger’s businesses have won many awards and recognition at the highest of levels in the UK. Including, Sun Mark winning the Queen’s Awards for Export and International Trade in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, a record in British business history.
Lord Ranger has also been awarded an MBE and CBE by the Queen. In addition, He is the chairman, founder or patron of a number of organisations. These include Chairman of Conservative Friends of India, patron of the Prince’s Trust and chairman of the British Sikh Association.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, DESIblitz exclusively asked Lord Ranger the impact of the coronavirus on his business and his views on the UK governments handling of the situation.
When did COVID-19 first affect your business?
Our company is engaged in food and supermarket item distribution in over 120 countries and China is one of those countries.
We first started feeling the effect of the coronavirus in January when the restrictions started being enforced in China.
Gradually we have seen this spread over the world as lockdowns and infection rate have grown.
What parts of your business are no longer active?
We provide essential consumer goods for which there is continued demand.
We have seen how supermarkets have had to maintain stock levels and sometimes struggled.
The core part of the company continues to operate with a skeleton staff and many working from home.
We are facing new challenges under the current climate and like many other businesses doing what we can to adapt.
How are you coping currently financially?
We are fortunate that due to the nature of our service, there is continued demand.
Business is of course not running as normal.
We need to be proactive in understanding the requirements of the many different markets we work in and the change in demand for various products.
We are lucky in that we are in an essential business but my heart goes out to so many people and companies who are in real trouble as a result of the circumstances we are in.
Fortunately, the government initiatives acknowledge the challenges that are being faced and we hope they will be able to help people through this time.
How has the lockdown affected you and your family personally?
The lockdown, without doubt, has caused unprecedented changes to our day to day lives.
We are staying at home at all times and sometimes going out for our daily exercise but we have to follow government and public health guidelines to do our bit to slow down the spread of this disease.
It is clear staying at home helps society, the NHS to contain the pandemic and saves lives and this is the way in which we can help, by comparison, I feel it is a small sacrifice for us.
We are in any case in touch with our family members on the phone, through video calls and family chat groups so we have interaction on a daily basis.
How do you feel businesses need to change during this period?
Many businesses are having to learn a new way of working where they can find a new way.
We are seeing an increase of remote working, increased use of technology and many meetings been replaced by video conferencing.
Each business is different and has its own needs and challenges.
Many are being forced to look at the structures and ways in which they work and find alternatives. We are also seeing business explore new markets and opportunities.
This whole experience may mean some of the new practices we learn, maybe ones we take with us into the future.
I for one don’t believe that we can replace all face to face contact with online meetings, business in so many ways is based on relationships, but I can see that more can be done online and we too as a company are learning from the new measures we are having to adopt.
For the future, without a doubt, the use of technology will become more important.
This will be the primary change we will see and once we get through the current situation I know we will look at this more carefully.
Do you think the Asian community has adhered to Govt advice well?
The Asian community and families are very close-knit and sociable people.
We have many multi-generational homes and we must do all we can to shield the vulnerable and halt the spread of the virus.
We must adhere to Government advice and follow all guidelines to do all that we can to keep ourselves and those around us safe.
For many staying away from family, friends, community events and places of worship for so long is difficult and counter-intuitive, but we need to make sure we do this at this time as lives depend on it.
What are your views on citizen’s stuck in India?
I am aware that the British High Commission in India has been working tirelessly to help British citizens return. Charter flights have been arranged and we have seen many return home.
More information for anyone that needs it, can be found on their website: Return to the UK – India.
I would urge anyone stranded to make contact with their Member of Parliament and the High Commission.
This must be a difficult time for people who are stuck with their families and I hope all get back safely home soon.
Do you feel the UK govt has done enough for businesses?
I believe the measures they have proposed gave so many people reassurance and support when they were otherwise gripped by uncertainty and fear.
I do think the government has responded quickly to the unprecedented challenges being faced.
It is now about getting the various groups who need to implement the support packages to give businesses and individuals the support needed.
The level of support is unprecedented in peacetime so they must be commended for this.
Lord Rami Ranger has proved that sheer dedication and commitment towards an ambition to succeed in business can be fully realised. It can result in unprecedented growth and a tremendous recognition of your achievements.
Of course, his business has not become what it has without the help and support of others including key family members but without him being the founder, using his intuition and leadership skills, his entrepreneurial empire would not have become what it has today.
Starting with £2 and growing it into a £220m brand and business is an accolade that he, his family and staff should totally proud of.
We wish Lord Rami Ranger and Sun Mark all the best during these very difficult times, however, based on their business acumen to date, we know that this business will no doubt adapt and rise to the challenges ahead of them.