A 'self-made' business sultan of today, Firoz Kassam happened to be the former owner of Oxford United F.C. Voted by the Sunday Times Rich List 2006 as one of the richest Britain-based businessman, Kassam rose like a phoenix from his miserly status as a mere slum hotelier of the 1980s. By 1999, Kassam became the owner of Oxford United F.C along with its debts. And in 2000 he initiated the construction of the ‘Kassam Stadium’-- a new 12,500 three sided stadium at Minchery Farm on the edge of Oxford. In fact, Oxford United owes to Kassam its whole new get-up that includes a hotel, cinema, bowling alley, gym, health centre and restaurants.
Kassam’s phenomenal growth also witnessed the rejuvenation of the historic mansion and grounds of Heythrop Park into a luxury hotel that has an 18-hole golf course and restored landscape gardens. By August 2005, he bought Studley Castle in Warwickshire and in February 2006, his Firoka Company went ahead to redevelop Alexandra Palace in London. Despite initial objections to Kassam’s commercial objectives regarding the palace, in February 2006 the case was finally ruled to his favor by the High Court against the conservationist Save Ally Pally group.
Firoz Kassam personifies the age-old adage: God helps them who help themselves. And it is the Midas touch of this aspiring entrepreneur that has made the success dream a reality for the Firoka group. And this success is all the more a proverbial ‘happily-ever-after’ fairytale if one notes Kassam’s Tanzanian background. He belonged to the minority Indian community in Africa. But thanks to his mixed nationality, he learnt the way to adjust very well and got the hang of things in the business world very quickly.
But, as they say, ‘Rome was not built in a day’. Brought up to assume responsibility for a large family and yet fired by an undying individuality, Firoz was from the start pretty sure of his dream to make it big. Gathering funds from his modest waiter career, Firoz gained foothold in Olympia, London.
Though struck badly by the 1980s depression, Firoz never lost hope. His perseverance paid off in the 90s with his signature group of hotels rose constantly in Oxfordshire. Finally they came into their own as the largest niche market of hotel and conference, named ‘Firoka Group.’