The Hot Scots Power 40: Sanjay Majhu, Ashoka

21 February 2013
The Hot Scots Power 40: Sanjay Majhu, Ashoka

Ranking: 37


Sanjay Majhu is known as the curry king of Scotland and is chief executive of the Glasgow-based Harlequin Leisure Group. The restaurant arm owns 12 restaurants under four brands - Ashoka, Ashoka Shaks, Green Chilli Café and Las Ramblas Tapas, the latter being his first European restaurant offering. A new Ashoka restaurant opens in Edinburgh next month, while his Cook School restaurants will roll out over the next four years.

Sanjay Majhu - Career guide

Born in 1968 in Kenya to Kenyan and Indian parents, Majhu moved to Glasgow with his family when he was eight, where his father opened a grocer's shop in Pollokshaws Road.

His connection with Harlequin - then owned by Charan Gill MBE and Gurmail Dhillon - began early, when he worked as a part-time waiter in the Ashoka West End, Glasgow while still at school.

In 1990, having graduated in agricultural chemistry from Glasgow University, Majhu was drawn back to the restaurant industry and ended-up working his way up the career pole from dish washer to restaurant manager at Harlequin's Spice of Life in 1993.
Nevertheless, for a brief spell, Majhu decided to switch careers, back to his academic training, enrolling on a degree course in pharmacy at the Strathclyde School of Pharmacy and graduating in 1999. However, he was unable to resist the lure of the restaurant world and returned to the Spice of Life that same year, persuading its owners to sell the property to him. Four years later, in 2003, he also acquired his first pharmacy and founded the Apple Pharmacy.

In 2005, Charan Gill sold the Harlequin Leisure Group to Majhu for £8m. Today, Apple Harlequin has a group turnover of over £20m, with interests ranging from restaurants to pharmacies, commercial and residential property to electrical wholesale - and also incorporating an online voucher site which offers customers the best deals within the group's businesses.

His most recent project, the Ashoka Cook School, opened in Linwood and in Motherwell College. A new sister-business, Ashoka Cook School restaurants, will be launched later this year.

Sanjay Majhu - What we think Despite completing two science degrees in agricultural chemistry and pharmacy, Sanjay Majhu has found it hard to stay away from the restaurant business. Having started from humble beginnings as a dish washer in 1990, he now boasts 12 franchised restaurants under four bands. He recently launched a new venture, the Ashoka Cook School, where customers/students are taught the building blocks of Indian cuisine (including how to make chapattis, curries and pakoras). Overseen by his wife, Jaginder, so far they are booked solidly for the next eight months and have already attracted over 2,000 customers.
This summer will see the first Cook School Restaurant open: the idea behind this extension of the new brand is to allow customers to watch the Cook School in action while the tuck into their food. Majhu intends to roll out the concept across Scotland over the next four years.

Sanjay Majhu website >>Ashoka riding out recession and hoping to be debt free >>

Menu Magazine: Sanjay Majhu >>

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