THE former boss of the Jennings Motor Group Nas Khan has died suddenly at the age of 58.
It is understood that he suffered a fatal heart attack in Stockton on Wednesday.
His death comes just two months after he sold the automotive group to Lookers for £5.6m for the entire issued share capital, although Jennings held on to its Stockton Kia branch and Harley-Davidson franchises in Gateshead and Leeds, rebranding the two motorcycle businesses.
Khan’s life was a true rags-to-riches story, with the businessman arriving from Pakistan as a 14-year-old unable to speak English. At just 22 years old, though, he became a sales executive at Jennings Ford in Stockton and rose through the ranks to become group sales director – a role he held for 13 years – and then group managing director in 2005.
He was involved in three management buyouts, the first of which was from the third generation of the original Septimus Jennings family, and resulted in a fourth promotion to sales and marketing director. He then took over as managing director and later became sole proprietor of the company.
In 2015, he received Ford’s global ‘Salute To Dealers’ award and was also named Teesside Business Executive of the Year.
Khan was also recognised as a philanthropist and supporter of many good causes on these shores and in Pakistan, being awarded an OBE in April 2017 for services to charity and the economy, while three months later he received an honorary doctorate in business administration from Teesside University in similar recognition.
His charitable achievements included building a village in Pakistan in 2010 after floods caused widespread devastation.
Andy Bruce, Lookers chief executive, said: ‘It is with great sadness that we have learnt of the passing of Nas Khan, the former owner of Jennings Motor Group.
‘Nas was an extremely well-regarded member of the business community, whose dedication, passion and meticulous stewardship helped Jennings become one of the most recognisable brands in the north-east and the UK as a whole.
‘His established and recognised charity work served as a fine example to other senior decision-makers within our industry and was typical of a man who was as well respected for his kind heart as he was for his shrewd leadership.
‘Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family and friends, as well as our new colleagues at Jennings, for whom this will be a huge shock and tragic loss.’
Among those paying tribute to him was photographer Ian McClelland, who called him ‘a true gent and family man’:
Im sad to report the sudden death of my colleague and friend of 25 years Dr Nas Khan OBE,former MD of Jennings Motor Group.He was a philanthropic businessman receiving many awards for his charity work both in the UK and his native Pakistan.He was a true gent and family man. RIP. pic.twitter.com/KlZdHFcggp
— ian mcclelland (@ianmacphotos) November 29, 2018
Khan is survived by his wife Naila and children Sohail, Sairah, Natasha and Samah.