How did you get to where you are today?
With a lot of luck, stupidity and hard work. I started my career working as a stockbroker in London but found it uninspiring and left to travel with friends. I encountered pomegranate juice during my stay in Pakistan, fell in love with it, and came up with the idea of making a business out of them. I knew nothing about the fruit or juice business so spent hours in the British Library doing research. I travelled extensively in the Mediterranean and Middle East to track down a good supply. After hard work and the invaluable help of Indian professor and expert juice blender Maria Cabrera, we came up with the perfect juice drink which is 37% fruit. Pomegreat was launched nationally in the UK in 2004, and its success has blown me away. I keep pinching myself to check if its real.
Tell us a little bit about RJA Foods
It started off with three of us - myself and the two friends I went travelling with. However, both of my partners left the business due to ill health a few years ago leaving just me. I'm supported by a fantastic team of focused and enthusiastic individuals. I can honestly say there is not one part of my job that I don't enjoy.
What has been keeping you busy lately?
This autumn we're spending £1.3m on a dedicated marketing, sampling and advertising campaign to drive further awareness of the brand and its fantastic health benefits and taste credentials. We've been working closely with mixologist Jez Manterfield to come up cocktail recipes such as the G&P, and the Pim Pom, a delicious mix of Pimm's and Pomegranate. Pomegreat is so versatile we are now one of the most requested cocktail mixers in London's trendiest bars.
What are your plans for 2006 and beyond?
I will probably spend a large amount of my time in the Middle East, where much of our fruit is sourced. Pomegreat's progress from niche brand to mainstream has been dramatic, and it is now widely listed in the multiples, independents, pharmacies and the on-trade. The brand's success has been amazing. One of the biggest challenges we now face is keeping up with supply demands. I'll be doing a lot of work on that. I believe the pomegranate juice market is still relatively untapped. Pomegreat has the potential to go much further. We're looking forward to breaking more records as the year goes on.