The BBC has long blazed a trail when it comes to improving diversity in the UK’s media landscape and its latest move to that end is arguably one of its’ most curious – roping in the Indian origin heir to Britain’s largest vitamin company to sit on the panel on the hit show ‘Dragon’s Den’.
Tej Lalvani is the CEO of Vitabiotics, the pharma giant which manufactures and sells such well known supplements as Wellman, Wellwoman and pregnacare and which counts the likes of David Gandy and Nicole Scherzinger as brand ambassadors.
Mr Lalvani was brought in after businessman Steve Parish – co-owner of the Crystal Palace Football Club – pulled out of the new series, less than a week after he was announced as the replacement for outgoing dragon Nick Jenkins.
Vitabiotics is the largest vitamin company in the UK by value sales with a current group turnover of over £300 million a year. The company was founded in 1971 by Tej’s scientist father Professor Kartar Lalvani who remains the company’s Chairman.
After taking over the business some twenty years ago, Tej has overseen Vitabiotics’ phenomenal growth.
Through hands on experience in all departments of the business from driving fork lifts to his current role as CEO Tej’s key goal and vision is to build Vitabiotics into the largest specialist vitamin company in the world.
Under Tej’s leadership Vitabiotics has expanded to its current size where its products are sold in over 100 countries worldwide and produces many of the UK’s number one selling vitamins.
The company has also been awarded Boots’ Supplier of the Year award and the Queen’s Award for Innovation.
While Tej’s meteoric rise is remarkable, his father’s story is even more extraordinary.
When Dr Lalvani founded the company in 1971 it was the UK’s only specialist supplements company.
The future multi-millionaire was born to a well to do Sikh family in Karachi in 1931. His father was a pharmacist and the family had a comfortable live up until 1947 when the Lalvani’s had to abandon their life and move to Mumbai as Partition wreaked havoc across the subcontinent.
That period of intense turmoil, Dr Lalvani would later admit, would shape his entrepreneurial spirit – one which has now led to his son appearing on a hit show in which successful businessmen
hear pitches from would-be tycoons looking for investment and advice.