by LAUREN CODLING
THE CEO of a leading UK petrol station enterprise spoke of working for his multi-million family business at the Asian Business Awards Midlands in Leicester last Friday evening (27).
Shane Thakrar is the chief executive of HKS Retail, a business which encompasses over 70 petrol forecourts across the country.
In an informal conversation with ABA Midlands host Nihal Arthanayake, the 34-year-old spoke of his efforts and dismissed any rumours of pressure he may have felt to join the family business.
“There was no pressure at all,” Thakrar revealed to an audience of 350 who attended the exclusive annual event. “There were no expectations either – I was able to find my own ground, listen and was able to show my family what I was capable of.”
Starting as a family business in 1984, the organisation began with a single forecourt in Coalville, close to Leicester. Today, HKS currently employ around 750 people across their business and is continuing to expand at a fast pace.
It also boasts a number of partnerships with leading food and drink brands such as Costa, Spar, Subway and Greggs, among others.
Now headquartered in Leicester’s Belgrave Gate, Thakrar is the head of the company and revealed his support of its founders, his uncles Hasmukh and Kamlesh, and father Sailesh.
“Starting out, it was a real struggle for them, they were working 16-hour days, but it is so great to see what they have achieved now,” Thakrar said. “They were always open to say to me, you must concentrate on what you want to do.”
Recalling his early years in the business, the CEO admitted he was keen to get involved with every aspect of HKS. However, he asserted that hard work and learning should be on high on the criteria, rather than relying on nepotism.
“You have to be patient and you have to wait to be taught things,” he said. “I don’t think there should ever be a position where someone is entitled to rule – we have to take matters into discussion, see how they fold out, and there should be no assumption that you work within a certain role.”
Thakrar, who was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the national Asian Business Awards in March, said it is challenges of the business that excite him within his work.
There are so many great opportunities, he said, but making sure you pick the right one and ensuring it is different to anything else in the market is key.
On his family life, the tycoon joked the family don’t speak to other out of work to avoid rifts.
“It’s easier like that,” he laughed. “No, but we are a family that works together, but we complement each other. And if we do argue, the best thing to do is cool down and take a moment to step away, think about it and come back later.”
Looking to the future, Thakrar hopes he will still be working alongside his family and expand the business overseas.
When asked what he would say to his younger self, Thakrar joked he would have advised himself to drink less.
“Of course,” he laughed. “But also, when I was younger, I wanted everything done yesterday. That’s a great thing to have had, but I would have advised myself to always have the patience to think ahead.”