A boss of a leading Yorkshire food group believes its move back into Leeds marks another step in the growth of the city’s waterfront into a vibrant place to do business.
Mumtaz, the £25m-a-year turnover Bradford-based restaurant and ready meals company, has reopened at Leeds Dock after setting up there in 2009 only to transfer to third-party management three years later.
Its Leeds director, Rab Nawaz, said the economic downturn hit the restaurant and the waterfront hard the first time around, but now the area’s fortunes had been transformed. An upturn in the business trade is already evident, and the waterfront feels much busier, with companies moving in and apartments occupied.
The redevelopment of Leeds waterfront had been one of the city’s most prestigious projects, but rates of occupancy of both commercial and residential property fell short of anticipated levels.
“When I started building the restaurant, it was an absolute ghost town,” Mr Nawaz said. “We got sold the dream about the development, but it didn’t happen. There’s a lot more movement there now, and there are some big companies like Yorkshire Water, GE Capital, Sky News, and the apartments are full now.
“We see Leeds as the financial capital city for the north. There is a lot of activity at Leeds Dock, and we see some exciting times ahead for the area.”
The waterside’s improving fortunes prompted Mr Nawaz to re-acquire the restaurant, which had been renamed Chandeliers, in February.
It was the first restaurant that Mumtaz had opened outside Bradford, and underwent a £3.3m fit-out.
The Mumtaz Group is one of Yorkshire’s leading food companies, with its roots in the restaurant trade, but also one of the biggest names in ready meals.
Mumtaz Food Industries supplies the food halls of Harrods and Fortnum and Mason as well as major UK retail chains including Asda, Morrisons and Tesco. It exports to more than 30 countries. The group takes its name from chairman Mumtaz Khan Akbar, older brother of Mr Nawaz.