INTERNATIONAL MEN'S DAY: The sacrifice of running a successful business

Events industry mogul opens up about the toll coronavirus is taking on his industry, his relationship with his father, and his experience as a father himself.

Atul Lakhanki in front of the IXL Events Centre

Living a non-materialistic life growing up in Jinja, Uganda, Atul Lakhani’s earliest memories revolve around being surrounded by family and friends.


Although his father was a successful entrepreneur with multiple businesses, they shared a “simple but happy existence” until forced to leave the country for a new life in Leicester when Atul was aged five.


Atul is the man behind Leicester catering business Sanjay Foods and Leamington Spa’s IXL Events Centre. And his late father is the man behind Bobby’s Restaurant in Belgrave Road, which he managed to set up after losing most of his money.


“Like many children whose parents worked in a family business, we hardly saw our parents,” Atul told us. “But the stability which had been enshrined in us from a young age allowed us to be self-sufficient.”


The values instilled in him led to the achievement of a degree in economics and politics and, shortly after, a return to Bobby’s to support his father during ill-health.


“By the millennium, I decided I wanted to branch out on my own due to differences in opinion on how Bobby’s Restaurant would move forward.


I was old enough to remember the hard work my father had put in but young enough to have my entrepreneurial instincts which saw the establishment of Sanjay Foods.”


Sanjay Foods became synonymous with high end catering and event management and now has catering rights to over 160 premier, nationwide venues.


However, Atul says his takeover of IXL Events Centre in 2013 is his greatest achievement. With it, IXL has won 15 major awards in the past six years.


Following in his father’s successful entrepreneurial footsteps though meant Atul’s journey as a father himself would take a similar course.


He said: “When I first started the business, my children were very young and hence hardly ever saw me, which then creates its own problems.


"The journey in developing a successful business, unfortunately, results in a whole series of trade-offs, which perhaps with the benefit of hindsight, I would not have embarked upon.”

Read the full article in Niche Magazine.

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