Q&A with the Co-founders of Haloodies

The Haloodie think tank – Imran Kausar (left) and Noman Khawaja (right) – Credit: Haloodies

FtL fires 10 questions each at the co-founders of KKR Halal, Imran Kausar (Managing Director) and Noman Khawaja (Sales Director) – the duo behind the hugely successful brand, Haloodies.

They provide some insightful clues as to what it takes to get seven lines from their Halal chicken range into six of the country’s leading food giants.

1. Haloodies products are now available from 6 leading outlets. Sum up the secret to your success in three words.

Noman: Passion, leadership, knowledge.

Imran: Planning and prayer.

2. How do you two personally scale any doubts and fears of failure that business people invariably suffer from from time to time?

Noman: There’s always a doubt from time to time, but you have to be really bold, confident and trust your instincts. We work with data a lot and that helps us shape our thinking and make informed decisions. Any risks we take are calculated.

Imran – Do the absolute and utter best you can and then leave it all to Allah’s will.

Imran: Ultimately, you can only influence what is within your sphere of control, so I focus on making sure every element of that is under complete control. After that, I place my entire trust in Allah. (SWT). After years of working in such diverse industries such as medicine, investment banking and pharmaceuticals – my learning has been the same: Do the absolute and utter best you can and then leave it all to Allah’s will.

3. What’s the single biggest obstacle you two have personally faced and scaled in the establishment of Haloodies?

Noman: From a personal perspective, it was in the early days when it was just me full time and income was low resulting in my lifestyle being a bit more restrictid than it is now. And a tough one to explain to the family why this would all be worth it. For the business, I’d say the biggest obstacle was becoming financially stable.

Imran: I gave up a very successful career in pharmaceuticals with a mortgage and very young kids. Persuading my wife that this was sensible was challenging. She has been incredibly supportive and I rely upon her support in every way. I had been reading up and talking about my dissatisfaction with Halal for almost two decades and what I could possibly do about it; so it wasn’t a complete surprise for her that I was finally following my dream.

Imran – To know that we took the essence of Halal and made it sparkle and shine again would be something I would be pleased to take to my grave.

4. Presumably you two are working around each other for long periods every day, so tell us one thing that annoys you about the other?

Noman: Imran’s constant desire to wear a kilt to the office! Thankfully, he’s fought the urge so far.

Imran: Luckily we have a growing team with most of us in an open plan office, so any annoying habits are experienced by all. Noman’s fine, apart from his crunching!

5. What does Noman bring to the table in terms of a single quality that Imran lacks, and vice-versa?

Noman: I’d say I bring more of a personal touch.

Imran: I bring the business/strategy and management experience. Noman has a friendlier demeanour which makes him naturally suited to sales. I tend to be a lot more direct and bold in my approach.

6. What do you think your biggest strength and weakness is as business men?

Noman: I’d say my biggest strength is understanding people and building relationships. My biggest weakness is that I should learn to relax more. I’m working on it!

Imran: I am intensely curious and love reading. That probably explains my varied career in very high powered and complex industries. I think my greatest weakness is assuming everybody can run at the same pace as me. My wife constantly reminds me to ensure I am bringing the team along on the journey.

7. How do you go about accommodating any major views and opinions you differ in with your partner?

Noman: Nothing juicy here I’m afraid. We talk it out and eventually come to an agreement. You have to pick your battles after being in business together for six years.

Noman – I want to see Haloodies as the leading Halal food brand in the UK and abroad.

Imran: I read all the data and listen to all the views and we make decisions. Each issue has its own context unrelated to any other issue and needs to be understood fully. Differences of opinions are good as sometimes you need to remember the old saying, “Don’t believe everything you think!”

8. What’s your favourite ‘Cooked’ Haloodies product (and don’t say all of them)?

Noman: Peri Peri Split Sticks – they’re amazing!

Imran: Our new Hot’n’Spicy chicken meat snack is fantastic and sure to be a winner. It’s moreish and healthy – what a great combo! We expect to launch it later in the year to move people away from high fat, high carb snacks.

9. Where would you like to see Haloodies in five years’ time?

Noman’s favourite!

Noman: I want to see Haloodies as the leading Halal food brand in the UK and abroad. I want Haloodies to be stocked in every major retailer and be available to every Halal consumer around the world.

Imran: Twenty years ago, my vision for improving the quality of halal was to take it to such a level that Muslims would be openly proud of it and non-Muslims would respect it for its benefits to animals, mankind and the planet. If we can make obtaining Halal easier for Muslims and make non-Muslims pick up a pack of Haloodies for its product quality and Halal attributes, I would be happy.

10. When you’ve hung up your gloves and passed on the baton, what do you think you’ll be most proud of with Haloodies?

Noman: We created a brand to serve Halal consumers, from scratch. Not many people can take an idea from concept to inception. We showed leadership and innovation, and I want anyone who takes over the baton when we retire to be inspired and know anything is achievable.

Imran: If Haloodies, and our great team, can manage to improve the quality and status of Halal so that our children and future generations don’t have to put up with the current low quality, low status perception of Halal, I would feel like we have achieved something positive. To know that we took the essence of Halal and made it sparkle and shine again would be something I would be pleased to take to my grave.

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