Interviews

“Labour’s lost my vote”

2 min read

11 November 2007

“Before the pre-budget report, I thought the government supported entrepreneurs,” said Sahar Hashemi, who started the Coffee Republic empire with her brother in the mid-90s. “I was wrong.”

“Brown said the only way to survive against the Chinas and Indias of this world was to encourage a culture of entrepreneurialism in this country. Then he goes and ups capital gains tax and announces the death knell of taper relief. It’s completely unacceptable.”

“This government has lost my confidence. And I’m not the only one.”

Hashemi says she’s been lobbying against the proposed changes and has signed up to The Telegraph’s “Save CGT relief” Downing Street petition.

Although Hashemi left Coffee Republic in 2001, she still has a vested interest in the rights of entrepreneurs.

In 2005, she set up her second business, Skinny Candy, a brand of sugar free-sweets. Although turnover is still ‘tiny” (“it’s not even worth mentioning”) she’s just done a 50/50 joint venture with confectionary giant Glisten.

“I started Skinny Candy from home. It was very much a coffee-table business,” she said. “I reached a crossroads. Either I continue to grow this company by myself or I find another ready-made company to take care of the distribution, sales and logistics for me.

“I chose the latter option. It was a no-brainer. This is a competitive sector and I’m not prepared to be floored by the competition because I’m moving too slowly.”

Her dream is to be “the next Green & Blacks”. She wants to see the Skinny Candy brand in every petrol station and WHSmith Travel store across the country. “The last thing I’m thinking about at this stage is an exit,” she says.

Let’s hope that when she does come to selling up, Brown would have come to his senses and scrapped his proposed changes to CGT.