How UK entrepreneurs are contributing to the trillion dollar Muslim lifestyle market

  • The Muslim lifestyle market is one of the world’s fastest growing sectors
  • Global expenditure of Muslim consumers on food and lifestyle sectors grew 9.5% to $1.8 trillion in 2014 and projected to reach $3 trillion by 2021.
  • The UK is seen as a key contributor to the market with thousands of UK entrepreneurs creating thriving businesses especially in the food, fashion, art and cosmetics sector.
  • MLE Connect 2017 – the UK’s biggest B2B Muslim lifestyle conference takes place next week bringing together business owners, brands and entrepreneurs to learn, network and explore market opportunities.
  • Tweet this news story to your Twitter feed with the hashtag #MLEConnect2017

It is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world – and the UK is at the heart of it.

The trillion dollar Muslim lifestyle sector has grown rapidly in a short space of time and is set to grow even further over the next few years.

According to a recent report by Thomson Reuters & Dinar Standard, the industry grew 9.5% to $1.8 trillion at 2014 and projected to reach $3 trillion by 2021.

The UK is seen as a key market globally with brands and businesses keen to connect with Muslims consumers as well as a strong community of entrepreneurs and start-ups.

Next week, London will host the UK’s biggest B2B Muslim lifestyle event called MLE Connect 2017 for the second successive year.

The event will bring together business owners, brands, entrepreneurs and start-ups from across the world to learn, network and explore market opportunities.

Last year’s inaugural event saw over 160 delegates attend, including brands such as Tesco and Asda, and connect with potential business partners. Next month’s event will see 200 key businesses attend including delegates from UAE, Turkey and Iran.

“The UK is seen as a key target market for brands across the world,” said Tahir Mirza, founder of the Expo.

“We are seen as being at the forefront of trends and this is why brands from the Middle East and South East Asia are keen to speak and engage with this consumer base.

“If you look at the demographics, the Muslim population is younger, professional, social media savvy and have a higher disposable income. These are the key reasons why this market is so attractive and continues to grow rapidly.”

MLE Connect 2017 will see industry experts host a series of seminars and panel discussions across a number of industries within the Muslim lifestyle sectors including halal food, modest fashion, marketing, media, branding, finance, and international trade.

Wilf Lewis, managing director of Lewis Pies which supplies Halal pies across the UK to supermarkets such as Tesco, is one of those who will attend MLE Connect having seen a rapid growth in his business.

“I’m not your typical person who you would normally see selling to Muslim consumers,” he said.

“But the growth of our business has been very good especially over the last few years and we have become one of the leading suppliers to the Muslim community across the UK.

“We have invested in attending events like MLE and in our processes but also taken feedback from the Muslim consumers.

“We are now looking to expand our product range to include new products like meatballs for this market.”

Mr Mirza adds: “People like Wilf are a great example of how they have taken a traditional product and evolved it to meet the needs of the Muslim consumer.

“This is a great testimony of how events like MLE Connect are bringing value to the UK economy.”

Guest speakers at MLE Connect 2017 event will include Shelina Janmohammed, Vice President of marketing consultancy Ogilvy Noor, award winning CEO of Alchemiya, Navid Akhtar and a keynote speech by CEO of Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, Mr Abdulla Al Awar.

Attendees include representatives from the Turkish, Iranian and ASEAN trade organisations, Global Islamic Economy Summit, Haloodies, Aab and Haute Elan.

MLE Connect 2017 will take place in the heart of the City of London at 155, Bishopsgate, Liverpool Street, on 2nd May, 2017 with Human Appeal as the charity partner.


Name: Wilf Lewis
Business Name: Lewis Pies
Nature of Business: Pies
Location: Swansea

The horsemeat scandal of early 2013 sent shockwaves across the food industry but for Lewis Pies, it opened up new doors into the Muslim consumer market.

The Swansea-based manufacturer lost a contract with HM Prison Service supplying halal meat products but after a competitor got caught up in the horsemeat saga, they were asked to resupply all the products.

“One of the first things they wanted from us was to be certified,” said Wilf. “This made us re-evaluate our system and we decided to spend time and resources to ensure we had the best operation around.

“This is when we thought there was potential to supply the entire UK market with our Halal pies.”

In 2015, the company then created a separate division called Crescent Pies and Trusty Pies to supply Halal pies into the market.

“It was a tricky market at first as we needed to establish trust within the Muslim community. That is why we operated an open door policy and invested heavily in processes and procedures to establish this trust.”

Crescent Pies and Trusty Pies now supply independent stores across the UK and high street chains such as Tesco with halal products such as sausage rolls and steak pies.

“We have got the experience and trust from the community and this allows us to expand our product range in the near future to include family packs and items such as meatballs.”

Name: Armen Saboonchian
Business Name: Tamese and Jackson
Nature of Business: Beauty and Cosmetics
Location: Middlesex

When Armen Saboonchian came across a newspaper article a few years ago, it sparked an idea in his head.

“We already had a successful personal care business called Sapona but the nature of the report got me thinking,” he said.

“It was about Halal certified personal care products and we decided it was a good idea to create a brand that met this need in the market.”

After doing some market research and investing in some branding, Sapona created the Tamese and Jackson brand in 2015 selling hand wash and lotions, bath, body and hair products which were free from alcohol and certified Halal.

“We decided to create a brand which appealed to everyone and not just the Muslim market and this is reflected in the name and retro colours we have used.”

The products are now sold via independent retailers, online and a few Tesco stores. Last year, Armen was introduced to a buyer from Asda through the MLE Expo event which has now seen the product make it in store for the busy Ramadan/Eid period next month.


Name: Faaezah Qahhar
Business Name: Elaara Cards
Nature of Business: Islamic Greeting Cards
Location: Huddersfield

Like many great business ideas, Faaezah Qureshi’s also came by chance.

After struggling to find greeting cards that catered for the Muslim population, the mum-of-two saw a huge gap in the market and launched her greeting cards business with an aim to produce modern and contemporary cards for all Islamic occasions.

“The majority of cards on the high street didn’t complement the Islamic faith or reflect the trendy persona of young Muslims in the UK,” said Faaezah. “At that point, Elaara was born.”

To date Faaezah has created over 250 quirky designs for a range of occasions including Eid, Ramadan and weddings since the company was formed in 2015. Popular ranges include ‘It’s All About The Beard’ and ‘Keep Calm I’m Muslim’.

She also donates 10% of all sales to UK charities including Cancer Research and Penny Appeal. “Giving back to those less fortunate than us is a requirement of my faith and something I’m very passionate about,” she added.

The products, designed and made in the UK, are now stocked in a number of independent stockists across the country including Bombay Stores which is the largest Asian department store in the UK, but Faaezah hopes 2017 is a breakthrough year for her.

“I’m speaking with Selfridges, Asda, Co-op, Amazon and Scribbler and hope to get some my products stocked there which will be an amazing achievement.

“We are also looking at the export market and have some strong interest in places like UAE and France and that is definitely the plan for this year.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *