Dineshbhai Patel, the founder of household Asian brand Cofresh, dies aged 81
Tributes have poured in after the death of the founder of popular Indian snacks manufacturer Cofresh.
Dineshbhai Patel, who launched Cofresh in Nairobi, Kenya in 1965 passed away in the presence of his loved ones at the age of 81. He leaves behind his wife Savitaben, sons Priyesh and Minesh, daughter-in-laws Divya and Darshana, and four grandchildren.
The brand initially produced potato crisps and popcorn for local cinemas, shops, colleges and schools in Nairobi. In the 1970s, after Patel and his wife emigrated to the UK, they took over an old Leicester fish and chip shop.
The couple resided on the premises of their shop, where they utilised the fryers to produce spicy peanuts and green peas. These snacks were then packed by hand and sold to various Asian working men’s clubs, shops, and pubs. Their dedication and capability to cater to the escalating desire for genuine Indian snacks led to the prosperous growth of their business.
They were then joined by Patel’s brothers and later his sons helped make the business bigger in the 1990s, which grew into a multi-million pound manufacturer, selling its Bombay mix, spicy mix, chick peas, chilli chips and other ranges to all the major UK supermarkets. Priyesh Patel, one of their sons, went on to become the managing director of Cofresh.
In 2020, Vibrant Foods acquired Cofresh, which by then had expanded to a workforce of 250 and established factories in Leicester and Nuneaton. Patel had experienced changes and was surpassing retirement age, but remained dedicated to the workings of the company, visiting the Leicester factory daily and even assisting with packing operations as recently as last November.
During the summer of 2020, the couple also purchased Barnsdale Hall Hotel located on the banks of Rutland Water where after completing renovations, they named it Rutland Hall Hotel and Spa. It was recently mentioned in the The Times list of Britain’s 100 best places to stay for 2023.
Kamlesh Purohit, acting managing editor of BBC Radio Leicester, whose family was close to the family, said that Patel was a “truly remarkable person”.
He added, “I have not met a more humble, generous, and kind-hearted man than Shri Dineshbhai Patel – the founder of the Cofresh Snack Foods and owner of the beautiful Rutland Hall Hotel.
“I’m proud that my family was able to share the early part of the Cofresh journey back in the early 1970s and watch how he faced the struggles and challenges of setting up a new business head-on with an unparalleled determination and vision and turning it into a multimillion-pound business.
“And having adopted my mum as a sister, he was always Dineshmama to us.
“What a fantastic role-model he has been to the British Asian community, and the legacy he has passed on to his amazing sons Priyesh bhai and Minesh.
“This is a monumental loss for the entire nation.”
Leicester businessman Uday Dholakia, who is also a key member of the Leicester Asian business community, said he was deeply saddened by the news of Patel’s death.
He said, “A thoroughly humble human being, grounded industrialist, a wise consul, a generous and affectionate man.
“A passage in time, full of memories, achievements against odds, humility in abundance and profound vivacity for progress. A loss to me of a great mentor and revered elder statesman.”