Our Roots

About Wanis

Proudly taking its name from our founder Tulsidas Wadhwani (aka Mr Wani), Wanis International Foods was founded in 1964 in North London. As part of our original mission we helped the new migrant communities coming to the UK during this era enjoy an authentic taste of home, helping them to stay connected to their roots and cultures.

Mr Wani did this by directly importing, sourcing and retailing foods from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. In the early days getting foods from “back home” was almost impossible and you might have to wait weeks or even months to see the same products on shelf again. Many shopkeepers didn’t know where to go or who to ask to source these foreign products.

Mr Wani was a jovial and friendly character who loved his foods and enjoyed the challenge of bringing a smile to his customers faces when they saw products from their homelands. Going to the airport to collect fresh fruit and veg in the very early mornings, Wanis would open it’s doors at 5am so shop keepers could stock up their vans and return to their shops in time for a 9am opening time, without missing a single hour of trading.

In the early years there were many trials and tribulations, many products did not have barcodes, full ingredients listed or sometimes even labels. Many overseas suppliers didn’t appreciate the standards needed to bring products into the UK as “word-of-mouth” was the standard way of selling back home.

Wanis worked hard to overcome this knowledge gap and in doing so provided foreign exchange to partners overseas.  To these communities back home, we became a key distribution channel to reach the UK diaspora. Mutual trust and co-operation resulted in all parties growing together.

Customers began to rely on Wanis to have products “always in-stock” and we started buying in bulk.  As these communities settled and integrated and the popularity of World Foods has grown, so did we.  In time, our retail operations grew and Wanis spent time and effort to standardize products and packaging that could be wholesaled in the UK.

Today, with over 55 years of experience and knowledge we exclusively service trade customers only.
We distribute UK-wide to supermarkets, wholesalers, independent retailers and Online stores, as well as restaurants, takeaways and caterers of all sizes.

We export to over 30 countries across six continents and, we exclusively represent numerous heritage brands in the UK. Our storage and distribution facility is BRC accredited and we have an award winning Trade-only wholesale cash & carry that stocks over 8,000 UK and International grocery items, with access to many more.

We are on a mission to deliver adventurous foods from around the World to dining tables across the UK and beyond. As part of this we continue to introduce and champion many new products into the UK whilst leading on innovation and growth within our sector.

The History of

Follow our journey

1960's
Foundation

In 1964 Mr. Wani layed down the foundation of Wanis by importing small quantities of exotic foods from Africa and the Caribbean selling from his red delivery van.

With help and encouragement from his uncle, JL Varma of Jamaica, he begins to specialise in certain ethnic foods which weren’t easily accessible.

He opens his first retail store on London’s busy Holloway Road in North London.

Relocating to Commercial Street near the original Spitalfields Market (the home of exotic fresh fruit & veg), which drew customers from around the country to the East End of London.

1970’s industrial action and power blackouts force the business to pivot from importing fresh vegetables to processed produce.  Mrs Wani joins the business to make it a family affair.

1970's
The Early Years
1980's
Shoreditch

As the business expands Wanis becomes known as the “One Stop” for all things ethnic.

A storage warehouse is acquired in Tottenham.

Relocating to Waterden Road in East London, Wanis stays closely linked to New Spitalfields Market.

Wanis establishes its first delivery customers.

1990's
Hackney
2000's
Leyton

Hand in hand with the 2012 Olympics came the relocation to Leyton –  120,000 sq. ft. custom-built depot built for growth.

Wanis is one of the largest private employers in the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

Marking this great milestone, as we reached our 50th anniversary. The family grows to over 150 members.

A storage depot is opened in Milton Keynes.

2010's
50th Anniversary 
2020's
The CoVID Decade

CoVID-19 sweeps across the World, causing disruption to supply chains and economies across the Globe.

The Wanis family rise to the challenge to keep our extended family in stock and trading.

There is a natural frustration we often feel with ourselves and others when we face gaps between the limitations of our present reality and where we feel we need to be. It also reminds us that growth and time are inextricably linked.

“If we value what growth enables then we also have to accept that time enables growth. And that we need to value both the investment of time and the process of growth as they apply to ourselves and others.”

Back to the Future
To Infinity and Beyond
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Our Family

As a family business with family values the single biggest contributors to our success have been the talented team of people who work with us
Everyday Magic
Our Family
Happy Birthday to Us

Welcome to The United Colours of Wanis.

Our family stands at over 150 people strong. We work across Sales, Marketing, Merchandising, Logistics, Operations, Exports, Buying, Compliance, Admin, Accounts and more. Take a walk around our warehouses and offices, and you will see a rainbow of diversity with 28 different nationalities speaking 25 different languages.

With a globally diverse workforce the strength of our team lies in the differences among our people. Together we are committed to delivering exceptional results for our brand partners, suppliers, customers and the wider communities that we work with.

 

Love What you do, Who you do it with and Where you do it.

You’ve got to have a certain type of attitude to work at Wanis and bring it along (most days) with a genuine smile and consideration for our family.

Our family is yours – that leads to us being dedicated, kind and loyal to each other.

The mind-set, traits and behaviours we carry with us every day in what we do:

  • Remain Humble
  • Always Friendly
  • Best in Class
  • Enjoy Colour
  • Stretching for Growth
  • Searching for Solutions
  • Raising our Game
  • Using our Initiative
  • Be Professional and Fun

Awards

  • 2019 Best UK Wholesaler, London Asian Business Awards
  • 2017 Unitas Wholesale Member Award
  • 2016 Business Initiative of the Year, Unitas Wholesale Member Award
  • 2014 Outstanding Contribution to UK Wholesale, recognised by Today’s Group
  • 2014 Outstanding Company, recognised by Plimsoll Publishing
  • 2013 Best Member Company, Highly Commended recognised by Today’s Group
  • 2012 Top Performing Businesses, UK Futures 1000 recognised by Deloitte
  • 2012 Wholesale Depot of the Year finalist, recognised by Asian Trader Awards

 

 

Collaborations

  • Sponsors of the Jamaica-UK Rugby 7s national team
  • Supporting the Prison Link West Midlands, UK
  • Working with Jose Marti Technical High School, Jamaica
  • Renovating the Marfo Children Care Orphanage, Ghana
  • Supporting the Guru Nanak Trust Fund, Home for the Disabled, India
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