Bon Marche founder Parkash Singh Chima dies at Sikh Leisure Centre

ONE of Huddersfield’s most highly-respected businessmen collapsed and died in front of his friends.

Mr Parkash Singh Chima – founder of the huge Bon Marche retail group – collapsed at Huddersfield’s Sikh Leisure Centre.

Mr Chima, 86, was there to play cards with fellow Sikhs, as he did on several days each week.

The centre holds daily social gatherings for elderly members of the community.

Many of them had been friends for years and were there last Thursday when he arrived.

Mr Chima, of Kirkburton, had arrived in his chauffeur-driven new Rolls Royce Ghost at the adjacent Sikh Temple on Thursday morning.

A family friend said: "He then walked across the road to the Sikh Leisure Centre to play cards with his friends.

"At 1pm, as he as about to take his seat, he suddenly collapsed.

"He passed away very quietly amongst his friends".

Several hundred people are expected to attend Mr Chima’s funeral tomorrow. (Wed).

The service is at the Sikh Temple in Prospect Street at 11.30am and will be followed by a cremation at Huddersfield Crematorium.

Mr Chima had arrived in the UK from India in 1950 and settled in Cambridgeshire.

He started out as a door-to-door salesman on a bicycle, selling clothing to the local farming community.

It was in 1982 that he and his family moved to Huddersfield and began selling clothing from market stalls.

The stalls quickly developed into shops and the first Bon Marche store was opened in Doncaster in 1985.

Mr Chima ran the business with two of his sons Gurchait and Gurnaik and in 2002 they sold the company to the Peacocks Group.

By that time there were more than 300 stores, a huge headquarters at Grange Moor and an annual turnover of more than £200m.

 
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