Two former Bosnian refugees look set to make millions from the sale of Firezza pizza, it has emerged.
The announcement comes amidst a blazing row over immigration and helps show that many migrants and asylum seekers can make valuable contributions to the UK.
Since founding their first restaurant in 2001, Adnan Medjedovic and Edin Basic have built up the Firezza chain into a London institution. It now has 11, mainly West London branches, which are best-known for making wood-fired, meter-long pizzas and bring in annual profits of around £1m and an annual turnover of about £4.2m.
However, when the pair fled to the UK from Bosnia in 1992, escaping the bloody wars that resulted from the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, they arrived with few possessions and spoke little English. Both abandoned their university studies in engineering and architecture half way and spent the few years in the UK working menial catering jobs in places like Starbucks before setting up on their own.
The Firezza franchise is now valued at around £6m – with Medjedovic and Basic owning a 54% stake. This means they could leave with some £3m should they choose to sell.
Firezza has big ambitions. Corporate finance advisers Alaris Capital have said that a partial sale, which would lead to a profit injection, could be used to finance a London-wide roll out of the upmarket pizza chain, before it is taken nationwide and opened in places like Manchester and Birmingham.
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