The wife of Zuber Issa has given a rare interview and has spoken about the first time she met her husband and how the EG Group owners began their journey.

The rags to riches story of brothers Zuber and Mohsin Issa from Blackburn featured on BBC Radio 4’s 'Profile' series this week.

The brothers became national news last year after buying the supermarket giant, Asda. Last week they added the fast-food chain, Leon, to their portfolio. And now they’re rumoured to have their eye on Caffé Nero.

Speaking to Mark Coles on the programme Asma Issa said: “They actually hate being dubbed the billionaire brothers. They try and avoid the media as much as possible. No disrespect to you guys.”

The mum-of-four was asked about the early years and the parents of both brothers.

“My father-in-law was initially in the rag trade. Then he went on to the building trade for a few years and eventually ended up buying a petrol station. The boys used to help out during their teen years. That is where the passion for petrol stations came in.”

Speaking about her husband Zuber, Asma joked: “In terms of grades I don’t think he did really well. Don’t think he will be happy for me to say that."

She said Zuber went on to set up Euro News, “He was really interested in retail and I think when he was about 17/18 an opportunity went up for him to buy a newsagent in Preston. Which he ran from the age of 18.”

The couple were married in 1998 and had both been to the same primary school but had never met, “We got introduced through our parents. It was not exactly love at first sight but he did dazzle me literally at the first meeting.”

Lancashire Telegraph:

The Issa family with ELMORE, the hospital’s charity mascot, (from left) Asma, Ammarah, Humaira, Muhammad, Zuhaira and Zuber. The family have been keen to support local hospitals.

She said she not impressed when he bought a derelict petrol site in Bury, “I don’t know what he saw in the petrol industry. We had only been married a couple of years. We were actually on our way back from holiday in Malaysia and he stopped off in Bury to see this site and then in the car he told me that ‘I have just bought this’.”

Later Zuber bought more sites.

She added, “Every Saturday Zuber would visit all the sites. It was fun.”

“A few years down the line when it got to the stage when Zuber couldn’t handle everything he approached his brothers and said one of you come and give me a hand. That’s when Mohsin came in.”

Asma later describes how the brothers are very different characters and how they are dedicated to helping charities in any way they can.

Ilyas Munshi Commercial Director of EG Group told about the moment he was summoned to speak at the boys old school and met their Mohsin’s old head teacher: “With a chuckle she goes to me – well his attendance was very poor.

“I looked at some of his reports and academically he needed to do a lot better. I mentioned this to Mohsin and he said ‘I remember those days – the teacher would always say Mohsin- I don’t know what is going to become of you.’”

The series also features some words from business experts and journalist Shuiab Khan.

The interview can be listened to here in full on BBC Sounds.