Finalist in the Red Rose Awards 2015

February 4, 2015 at 12:09 pm

Red Rose Awards FinalistLast year, we expressed our surprise at being shortlisted for a whole host of business awards including the 2014 English Asian Business Awards, the E3 Awards, the EN Entrepreneur of the Year Awards and the Butcher’s Shop of the Year Awards. It was certainly a very busy time and it made life interesting for everyone.

Remarkably, it looks as though we are heading in a very similar direction again, despite being only just a few weeks into 2015.

We have just learned that we have picked up not one but three finalists’ places in the 2015 Red Rose Business Awards.

There are 25 categories in all and KQF has been shortlisted for the following:

  • Innovation of the Year
  • Manufacturing Business of the Year
  • Retail Business of the Year

“This is a real achievement for the team,” said managing director Faruk Vali. “A lot has changed over the last twelve months, from developing new products to finding new and better ways of serving our customers, so I’m very pleased that our efforts have been recognised in this way. Now, we’re really looking forward to the competition itself.”

Open to businesses from all over Lancashire, the awards are hosted by Lancashire Business View and will take place this year at the Winter Gardens on Blackpool. The final will be held on March 12th.

KQF Superstore’s Anniversary Prize Draw

November 24, 2014 at 9:51 am

To mark the first anniversary of the opening of the KQF Superstore in Blackburn, we held a free customer prize draw during our November anniversary sale.

VCD_0510_W

The draw was held on the 13th November and superstore supervisor Shabina subsequently presented the winners with their certificates and gift voucher prizes. The winners were:

First prize (£50 voucher): Farzana Ismail

Second prize (£30 voucher): Habiba Munshi

Third prize (£20 voucher): Muhammed Bawla

Congratulations to all three.

This won’t be our last prize draw, of course, so please remember to check this blog regularly for details of our various draws, give-aways and promotions.

KQF Superstore – One Year On

November 13, 2014 at 11:42 am

A year ago this month, we opened the KQF Superstore in Whallley Range, Blackburn. We promised new investment, new thinking and a new shopping experience. Twelve months have passed since then so now seems like an excellent opportunity to look back and see how much has changed.

Anyone who remembers the superstore as it was when KQF took it over will be aware that the layout has changed considerably. The old covered entrance has been fully glazed and made part of the interior so as to make more room overall. The checkouts themselves were updated earlier in the year and then moved into the newly extended entrance area, so movement around the store has become more fluid and much less cramped.

VCD_0452One of the most important changes came with the appointment of our new store manager and trained staff, whose experience and energy have helped to reshape the way the store looks and operates. KQF team and our managing director, Faruk Vali have introduced all sorts of changes – changes that have led us to win a number of nominations for regional and national business awards. KQF team members are extremely delighted as KQF has been named as the Asian English Business of the Year Award 2014.

Besides the obvious new branding, some of the most noticeable changes include new signage, the introduction of new product ranges and, of course, the new layout, in which there are new aisles with more space for frozen foods and other popular products. We have also introduced a new ‘taster counter’ where  customers can sample  new or seasonal dishes and get new shopping ideas. Our range of marinated meats has been especially popular in the last few months.

Other changes, though, have been more subtle. For example, customer feedback suggested that some shoppers felt a little intimidated by the old butcher’s counter and its all-male staff so we changed the way it worked. Now, meat preparation and customer service are handled by separate teams, with more female staff making the area feel more friendly and welcoming. This is one example of alterations that have been made as a direct result of talking with customers and asking for their feedback.

Another big improvement, according to customers, was the extension of the opening hours. The store opens earlier and stays open longer – 100 hours every week, in fact – so local people find it easier to fit their shopping around other activities and commitments.

To make sure that we can keep responding to the needs of the local population, we now host regular focus group sessions, giving local people a valuable say in new product development work.

Of course, all of these changes have required a good deal of thought, investment and staff training.  The good response to the recruitment of more female staff underscores the importance of effective liaison with customers. To do this effectively, KQF staff have been given intensive training and particular emphasis has been placed on encouraging and maintaining dialogue. The customer focus groups and taster counter are examples of how this is being put into action, but listening to our shoppers is encouraged at every level.

VCD_0410The last year has been a fantastically busy period for all at the KQF Superstore but we don’t plan to tread water next year. For example, we are looking at the feasibility of offering a ‘home shopping’ and local delivery service, and we will continue to talk to customers about our product ranges and opening hours.

If you have ever visited the KQF Superstore and you have any thoughts or suggestions, please do get in touch. We really appreciate all your feedback.

New Packaging for KQF Polonies

October 29, 2014 at 10:21 am
KQF Polonies

KQF Polonies

Customers might like to know that we have now launched the new-look packaging for our popular range of KQF Halal Polonies.

The new packs bring the products into line with the company’s updated branding and logo, which came into effect last year, and the colour coding makes it very easy to distinguish the different variants at a glance. The red wrapper indicates beef (Masala Polony), the blue indicates lamb and the yellow denotes chicken.

Please note that although the packaging has changed, the recipes, sizes and halal credentials have not, so customers will still be able to count on them to deliver the same quality, integrity and taste.

The KQF Polony range includes:

•    Chicken Polony
•    Masala (beef) Polony
•    Lamb Polony

Guest blog by Jerome de Ferrieres, AsiaFoodCo.

October 7, 2014 at 10:46 am

In this guest post, our French distributor and European retail expert Jerome de Ferrieres explains how the halal market has developed in France and why he believes that KQF products are well suited to some of its most promising niche markets.

A Taste for the Exotic: France’s Changing Halal Market

Firstly, thanks to KQF for giving me an opportunity to talk about the halal market in France, which is very important to the work of AsiaFoodCo.

There are some significant differences between the halal markets in Britain and France. I think it’s fair to say that the French market is a lot more mature, it has a very different composition and it’s certainly larger – roughly twice the size of the British market.

Between 5 and 6 million inhabitants originate from the Maghreb – the countries of Northwest Africa – whereas only a relatively small proportion of the Muslim population comes from India, Pakistan and Bengal. There are perhaps half a million people of Turkish descent living and France and the demographic mix also features more than a million people from West Africa – Gabon, Togo, Senegal and the Ivory Coast. As a rough estimate, around a third to a half of these African consumers will be Muslim.

Muslim populations tend to be quite concentrated, particularly around Paris, which could account for about half of the national halal market. The capital and its suburbs are therefore very important to retailers serving Muslim consumers.

Each ethnic group has its own characteristics and preferences and this applies particularly to the issue of halal certification. Some groups are not particularly fastidious and will simply avoid pork. Others will seek halal labelled foods but will not be greatly concerned about their certification. Others however – particularly certain communities in and around Paris – consider halal certification to be very important and will opt for foods that bear the stamp of their preferred monitoring body.

In France, the two leading bodies are AVS and Mosquée de Lyon. AVS tends to be regarded as the most stringent and is comparable in many respects to Britain’s HMC. The HMC itself is relatively unknown amongst ordinary shoppers in France but retailers specialising in the Muslim market are usually well informed about its work and therefore happy to stock HMC-certified foods, including those produced by KQF.

When it comes to judgements about the reliability of halal credentials, many French consumers tend to trust their chosen brand of supermarket/hypermarket. These shops will generally have a frozen foods aisle with a clearly marked ‘halal’ section so if a retailer is prepared to stock a certified food, its customers often tend to accept it.

KQF’s halal certification has therefore been very important for convincing retailers to stock its products and for proving that those products will stand up to the most rigorous scrutiny.  Now that they are in stock in many parts of Paris and elsewhere, the next consideration is how well the market responds.

We are still at a relatively early stage of market testing but the early responses have been good. In June, we agreed a deal with Le Clerc FRANCE, which has over 500 stores, and this followed agreements with other retailers including Alphaprim and distFresh.

In France, KQF foods are branded as Khan Exotique and I think they are successful because they appeal to particular niches. Burgers are common in France but they tend to be cheap and the meat content is low. KQF is not offering ‘just another burger’ but is, instead, offering authentic and exotic flavours from India and other parts of the world.

This illustrates how the halal market in France has changed, particularly over the last ten years. For a long time, shoppers had no difficulty in finding staple halal foods but their choice was very limited, especially when it came to products with more exotic flavours.

More recently, well known food brands have begun to introduce their own halal products so the market has started to develop a taste for variety and convenience. In addition, many Muslim consumers are anxious to buy products with reliable halal credentials, but there is a very limited number of products that combine all three qualities: exotic flavours, convenience and trusted certification. Fortunately, these are all areas in which KQF is very strong and this is what first attracted me to the Khan Exotique range.

Looking ahead, I think there is great scope for us to work with KQF to introduce more halal certified ‘flavours of the world’ to French Muslim consumers. The larger product sizes, the emphasis on quality and the reliable certification are all important selling points and as the range grows to include flavours from Mexico, Thailand, North Africa and elsewhere, I expect the brand to become increasingly popular.

KQF Named Business of the Year In English Asian Business Awards

October 3, 2014 at 12:18 pm

KQF has been named Business of the Year in the 2014 English Asian Business Awards.

1editPresented by Lloyds Banking Group, the Awards were held on the 29th September at the Mercure Manchester Piccadilly Hotel and were attended by hundreds of delegates from all over Britain. There were six other finalists in the Business of the Year category including, amongst others, professional services specialists, high-tech manufacturers and food and drinks companies from London and the West Midlands.

“This is a very prestigious award for KQF and to be up there with some really big names is a great achievement,” said managing director Faruk Vali. “I would like to express my appreciation to our whole 62-strong workforce for their contributions to making this award possible. We have come a long way in the last twelve months and much of it has been down to sheer hard work from the whole team. ”

The title of Business of the Year was awarded to the company which the judges believed most deserved to be recognised for its progress over the last year. In making their decision, the panel took into account KQF’s dramatic growth in sales, and our innovation with regard to new product development, branding, quality control and the expansion of our export markets.

Over the last year, we have almost doubled our turnover, won new clients in Britain and Europe and created a total of 12 new jobs.

We were recently commended as a finalist in the E3 Business Awards and, on 16th October, we will be appearing at the EN 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year Awards as a finalist in the category of Most Entrepreneurial Company. In November, representatives of the KQF Superstore will attend the Butcher’s Shop of the Year Awards – for which KQF has been shortlisted in two categories: the Halal Butcher’s Shop of the Year and the Innovation of the Year.

Another Nomination

September 15, 2014 at 9:20 am

In our last post, we announced that KQF had been named as a finalist in five separate business award categories – surely an impressive achievement by anyone’s standards. However, we’ve just heard that we’ve added to that total by achieving yet another shortlisting – this time in the EN 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

EN Finalist Entrepreneurial CoThese awards, which are now in their 13th year are run by Excel Publishing and the finals will take place on the 16th October at the Mere Golf Resort & Spa in Cheshire. The judging panel selected KQF as a finalist in the category of Most Entrepreneurial Company.

The judging panel comprises:

  •  Imran Hakim, inventor of the iTeddy and one of the most successful candidates on the BBC programme Dragons’ Den.
  • Rachel Elnaugh, founder of Red Letter Days and one of the original BBC ‘Dragons’.
  • Professor Amanda J. Broderick,  Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean, College of Business and Law at the University of Salford.
  • Colin Stevens, founder of Better Bathrooms and last year’s winner of both the headline category and Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Achieving finalists’ places in six different award categories and four different competitions shows just how far KQF has come over the course of the last year.  The first of these competition finals takes place next week (18th September) so we should have plenty to talk about in the coming weeks.

Watch this space…

Award Nominations Aplenty

August 29, 2014 at 10:07 am

E3 business awards - KQFWe are pleased to announce that since being named as a finalist in the E3 Business Awards, KQF has been shortlisted in two more high profile award competitions, bringing to five the total number of nominations that KQF has achieved this year.

Firstly, in late July, the organisers of the English Asian Business Awards 2014 informed us that we had been selected as a finalist in the prestigious  Business of the Year category. The Awards are supported by Lloyds Banking Group and will be taking place at the Mercure Manchester Piccadilly Hotel on 29th September.

The announcement came as a complete surprise, as did the news that KQF’s other halal food brand, Sara’s has also been shortlisted. It will be a finalist in the Online Business of the Year category.

Finalist logo 2014 blog Butcher's shop of the year awards 2014 - KQF“We are delighted to have done so well,” said KQF managing director Faruk Vali, “and we’re especially proud that the nominations for the English Asian Business Awards came not from ourselves but from our customers. We’re touched that consumers regard us so highly and I’d personally like to thank all those who nominated KQF or our Sara’s brand. We’re very much looking forward to hearing the results and hoping, of course, for a win.”

However, the good news doesn’t end there. Having already achieved places in three award categories and two important competitions, we heard in late August that we had also been shortlisted under two separate categories of the Butcher’s Shop of the Year Awards 2014. We will be appearing as a finalist in both the Halal Butcher’s Shop of the Year and the Innovation of the Year category. Our nomination under the Innovation category was based on the many changes that have taken place within the KQF Superstore.

The Butcher’s Shop of the Year Awards is a national competition and the finals will take place at a special lunch at The Rosewood Hotel in London on Friday 14th November.

“To have secured five finalists’ places in three such prestigious competitions is obviously a tremendous achievement,” said Faruk Vali. “These nominations recognise some of the important changes that have taken place over the last year or so but, more importantly, they also reflect very well on all the hard work that everyone at KQF has put in.”

We will publish further details as soon as they are announced.

Making the Most of Marinated Meats

August 26, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Making the Most of Marinated Meats

We’ve talked a lot in the past about some of our best known products – halal burgers and sausages and so on – but with the summer holidays and barbecue season now fast approaching, perhaps it’s time we looked at another KQF favourite that hardly ever gets a mention.

Marinade Sauces

Based on customer feedback from the KQF superstore, summer is a time when families really make good use of marinated meats. Barbecues, grills, stir fries and many other dishes can all really benefit from a good marinade, which adds flavour and also helps to tenderise the meat.

In store, we offer a 4-step process whereby customers choose their meat, choose their marinade, choose the pack size and then take the ready packed, ready coated meat home for cooking. However, there is absolutely no reason why families in other parts of the country shouldn’t be able to enjoy exactly the same choices. KQF offers all kinds of ready-prepared marinated meats and a range of delicious marinade sauces that can be delivered anywhere in mainland Britain. They are perfect for lamb, beef and chicken, as well as fish and vegetables.

Marinated Meat – Cooking Tips:

Here are a few tips for making the most of your marinades.

  • Marinades are great for keeping food moist and stopping meat from drying out when exposed to high heats (e.g. on a barbecue grill).
  • They are very cheap and effective ways of adding depth and complexity to the flavour of meat. They are especially effective on more economical cuts.
  • Most marinades contain an acid ingredient that helps to make meat more tender. This makes the meat more succulent and helps it to absorb more flavour.
  • To encourage the marinade to penetrate the meat, the surface can be lightly scored with a knife.
  • On larger cuts, marinades can be applied and left overnight to impart maximum flavour.
  • Fish should be marinated for only a short time before cooking – no more than 30 minutes to an hour. This is because the acids in the marinade can tend to start to ‘cook’ the fish meat and so marinating for longer than this can sometimes make the fish soft and doughy.
  • For the same reason, many home cooks believe that poultry should not be marinated overnight; some regard 3 hours as a sensible limit for chicken but others are happy to marinate poultry for up to 24 hours. This is ultimately a matter of personal choice.
  • When marinating, turn the meat regularly so that all parts of the surface are equally coated.
  • Always marinate meats in a covered container and leave it in the fridge. (Leaving meats at room temperature can encourage the growth of harmful bacteria.)
  • Use a ceramic or glass container for marinating meat. Avoid metal containers, which can react badly with the acids and leave a harsh taste. Plastic containers are generally okay for short periods but they can be subject to staining. Food grade plastics should be used because these will not tend to taint the food. Some cooks like to use re-sealable plastic bags because these allow the marinade to be massaged into the meat without making a mess.

As a bit of background research for this blog post, we asked our resident consumer food expert, Mohammed Shafi from the KQF Superstore, which meat cuts were most popular when it came to marinating. Shafi Bhai reported that, judging by recent sales, the most popular were, in order:

ChickenSchnitzels

1. Lamb Chops

2. Chicken Drumsticks

3. Chicken Fillets

4. Chicken Tikka

5. Lamb Ribs

6. Chicken Wings

Using the four-step service, customers are combining these cuts with the following KQF Marinade Sauces:

 

 

1. Spicy (Hot)

2. Lemon and Herb (Mild)

3. Piri Piri (Hot)

4. Piri Piri Brai (Hot)

5. Portuguese (Moderate to Hot)

If anyone would like to suggest their own favourite marinade recipes, please feel free to share them either here on this blog or via our Facebook page.

Enjoy the summer!

KQF Superstore Prize Draw Winners

August 8, 2014 at 12:23 pm

During Ramadan, staff at the KQF Superstore in Blackburn held a free prize draw for customers. Three winners were selected at random and, on 7th August, they were presented with their gift voucher prizes by superstore manager Ilyas Akubat.

First prize (£50 voucher): Mrs F.  Bhamjee

Second prize (£30 voucher): Mrs Z. Rashid

Third prize (£20 voucher): Mr Z. Butt

VCD_0003e  VCD_0005e     KQF Superstore prize draw winners

Congratulations to the winners. Don’t forget to check this blog for details of future prize draws, give-aways and promotions.

Our third prize winner, Zahir Butt said “He was very pleased to win the prize draw”. He added “If you like Halal foods, love KQF foods”.