Naresh Nagrecha, who founded the exotic soft drinks brand Rubicon four decades ago, has died peacefully in London on Tuesday (28), after a courageous battle with illness, the family said. He was 73.
Nagrecha has been a pioneer in the exotic food and beverage industry as co-founder of Rubicon Exotic Drinks and Shana Foods. His love for innovation and business resulted in further diversification, leading him to venture into many successful investments across the globe.
Born in 1950 in Kamuli, Uganda to the late Jamnaben and Gordhandas Nagrecha, he moved to the UK in 1972 upon the expulsion of Ugandan Asians by Idi Amin. After settling in the UK, he completed his master’s in food science from the University of Reading and then attended Wilson College in Mumbai, India.
He started his career at Schweppes, where he was inspired to start his own beverage business in 1981, along with his colleague Vish Vikera. Since the creation of its first wildly successful drink, Passionade, a year later, Rubicon has become the market leader in exotic juice drinks, and by the time they sold the business in 2008, the brand was available in all major supermarkets with the company producing over 50 million litres per year and employing more than 100 people in the UK and Canada.
Nagrecha’s commercial ability in developing the business with convenience stores and independent retailers has been the bedrock of Rubicon’s success. In its first year Rubicon sold 100,000 cases of Passionade, convincing shopkeepers to stock the drink by encouraging them to taste it. With the launch of their second product, Sparkling Mango Crush, Rubicon managed to double sales in its second year.
The company has continued to expand its horizons ever since. Turnover has increased from £300,000 in 1982 to £28 million in 2006, a growth rate of around 20 per cent a year over a period of 25 years, a formidable achievement within the highly competitive soft drinks market.
Scottish soft drinks company A.G. Barr, maker of Irn-Bru, acquired Rubicon Drinks in August 2008 for £59.8m, plus an additional £1.25m for the factory in Tredegar, Wales.
A ‘natural’ philanthropist, Nagrecha supported many significant community and spiritual projects as a founding member of the Sunskruti Foundation UK. His passion for learning led him to sponsor many educational projects and schools for children across the globe, particularly in India, with Sandipani Vidyaniketan alongside his Guru Pujya Bhaishri.
“He was a humble man, but he lived life to the fullest. He enjoyed socialising with family, friends, and business associates across the globe. His motto was ‘simple living high thinking’,” the family said in a statement.
“He cultivated many close friendships throughout the world in his lifetime. Naresh was a kind, fun, energetic and caring person. His good humour and friendship will be missed by all who knew him.”
Besides his wife, Veena, his children, Neel and Anjalee and his grand-daughters, Kareena, Aaraya, and Sansara, he is survived by his brothers Jagdish and Ashok Nagrecha, sisters Sarla Chandarana, Jyotsna Ruparelia and Nita Thakrar. His brother Inu passed away some years ago.