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    Exclusive: Sunita Aggarwal opens up on upcoming Raj Aggarwal Family Golf Day

    Sunita Aggarwal

    Sunita Aggarwal is trying to keep her husband’s legacy alive, not only by successfully running the family’s retail business but also by actively giving back to society.

    In that spirit, Sunita along with her children, close family and friends has been organizing Raj Aggarwal Family Golf Day, a fundraising event to celebrate the life of late Raj Aggarwal, who sadly passed away in April 2020 from Covid-19.

    A leading retailer, Raj was also an entrepreneur, innovator and philanthropist. At the time of his demise, he was not only busily running his stores at an unprecedented time but was going beyond the call of his duty to relentlessly support the community and local NHS hospitals.

    Today, Sunita is not only filling in her late husband’s shoes but covering many miles too. Speaking to Asian Trader, she talked in detail how Raj Aggarwal Family Golf Day stems from the influence she had from her late husband’s “big heart”.

    Exclusive: Sunita Aggarwal opens up on upcoming Raj Aggarwal Family Golf Day

    Sunita said, “When my husband passed away, his last picture on social media was him donating tea, coffee and biscuits to Glenfield hospital. I feel that through these activities, I am simply keeping his legacy alive, which means a lot to me and the family.

    “On his anniversary, we decided to do something when my daughter suggested to do ‘something bigger’. We then partnered with SPAR, AF Blakemore, ACS, and a few of Raj’s very close friends and started fundraising in his name.”

    Raj Aggarwal Family Golf Day is set to return for the third time on May 9 at the Forest of Arden golf course, West Midlands.

    Fund raised in 2022 and 2023 had helped Sheffield hospital and Leicester Children’s Hospital. This year, the event organisers have chosen The Boparan Charitable Trust to be the beneficiary of this fund-raising event.

    May 9 event will be marked by various activities for both golfers as well as non-golfers, including wine/gin tasting, evening dinner followed by a special event that will last until midnight.

    To date, this annual event has helped to raise more than £107,000 for various causes across the country, Sunita said.

    This year, she wants the raised funds to touch the lives of struggling retailers too.

    “I want that the funds that we raised somehow go towards retailers’ families though not specifically. I would like to help any family in the retail industry that needs support. We are after all a huge family, and I want to push forward to say that we got each other.”

    Recalling the horrid Covid lockdown days, Sunita said that one of the purposes behind the charity is to remind the world how convenience and local retailers went way beyond their call of duty to support community.

    “My main point in setting the charity up in the beginning was to highlight that we retailers were underestimated and undervalued at that time.

    “During the lockdown while everyone else was tucked in their homes, we had to organize our own safety while being operational. Nothing was available easily, not even masks. We really worked hard throughout the pandemic at our own risk. Some even lost their lives and Raj was one of them. I don’t think they ever got recognized for the kind of exceptional work that they did.”

    Covid turned this family’s life upside down, particularly Sunita’s, who had to jump in to take the reins of the business while dealing with her own grief. The family owns SPAR stores in Wigston, Leicester, and Hackenthorpe, near Sheffield.

    Sunita said, “Earlier, I was in the background of the business. I still went to the stores and worked every day but had my own niche roles like dealing with the staff while my husband used to deal more with the buying and the overall running of the stores.

    “Suddenly, I had to learn everything from wages to inventory, basically everything that goes into running a store. My son is also now involved in the business and has been helping me out. My late husband’s brother is also a part of the business and has been a constant support.”

    Exclusive: Sunita Aggarwal opens up on upcoming Raj Aggarwal Family Golf Day

    Apart from an active fundraiser and a successful retailer, Sunita is also a proud and vocal cheerleader for women working in retail industry. She is a part of two separate groups – ACS’ Women’s Independent Retailer Network (WIRN) and Women In Convenience, both working towards this cause.

    “Through both the groups, I am trying to establish a network, where we can get females out of their comfort zone. They are undervalued and I think they have got a lot of ideas to bring to the table,” she said.

    Industry figures show that a third of UK’s independent convenience stores owners are women. Also, a whopping 70 per cent of convenience work force which is over 392, 000 people are female.

    WIRN facilitates quarterly meetings for the group, featuring guest speakers and workshops where the group explores a range of topics, including public speaking, confidence and how to use social media.

    Sunita said, “I think it can go a long way for other women retailers to know that there is a group out there that you can reach out to.”

    “We have managed to get a good group together, but it is still a long way to go. Like, bringing them to attend industry events is still a challenge, which is what we are working on currently.

    “We are closely working with companies that Mondelez, Molson Coors and Philip Morrison to find ways of getting these women retailers to attend events hosted by suppliers, thus stepping into the forefront of the industry.”

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