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Friday, 1 February, 2002, 15:45 GMT
Pull of the poppadoms for Cherie
Cherie Booth opens Patak's new factory
Cherie Booth agreed to open the 12m site
The prime minister's wife, Cherie Booth, has opened what is believed to be the world's largest Indian food factory in Lancashire.

The company, Patak's, says the 12m site in Leigh - which is the size of six football pitches - will help to satisfy the UK's growing demand for Eastern food.

Ms Booth was also let into a closely-guarded family secret when she ground spices for Pataks recipes.

She first met Patak's director Meena Pathak in 1999 when Ms Patak was awarded with the Business Corporate Award at the Asian Women's Achievement Awards.

Patak's productivity 2001
30 million jars
27 million poppadoms - twice the height of Everest
1,000 tonnes of chutney
2,700 tonnes of spices imported from around the world

Ms Pathak said: "I've met her on quite a few social occasions and, as a woman, I admire her.

"She adopts to other cultures easily but is forthright about what she thinks. Those are the qualities every British businesswoman needs."

Patak's was founded by Laxmishanker Gauri Pathak in the late 1950s when he started selling samosas from his home in North London.

From its humble beginnings, the company has grown into an empire selling sauces, snacks, chutneys and pickles, with annual sales topping 50m.

Patak's employ 400 people, 248 of whom work at the new factory in Leigh, and their products are used in an estimated 90% of the UK's Indian Resturants.

It now offers ready-made and microwaveable meals to the UK as well as Europe, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Canada, the USA and more than 40 other countries worldwide.

The firm was forced to move to the 12-acre Leigh site in June 2001 to cope with demand for their products.

Mrs Pathak's husband, Kirit Pathak, said: "We are extremely proud and honoured that Cherie Booth agreed to officially open our new site.

Click here to go to Lancashire
See also:

01 Feb 02 | UK Politics
Cherie urged to speak up
27 Mar 01 | Business
Curry firm creates 1,000 jobs
25 Oct 00 | Health
British 'addicted to curry'
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