The boss of retailing giant Lulu Hypermarkets says he is forging ahead with ambitious expansion plans that include 42 new Lulu Hypermarkets in the next two years.
Yusuffali MA, who has been ranked the 40th richest Indian on the planet with a fortune of $2.2bn, said despite numbering 104 stores in the Middle East his Abu Dhabi-based company had no signs of slowing down.
It will open seven new hypermarkets in the UAE in 2014-15, six in Oman, four each in Qatar and Kuwait, three each in Bahrain and Egypt and 15 in Saudi Arabia.
New markets were also being pursued in Malaysia, Indonesia, Iraq, Algeria, Morocco and Libya.
“After this Arab Spring all these countries now they’re now liberalising the foreign investment law and people need organised retail instead of traditional,” Yusuffali said in an interview published in Arabian Business.
The company had also expanded into other areas, including 65 Lulu International Exchange branches in India, the far east and Africa and another 40 planned in the next three years in the MENA, India and Philippines.
And it had diversified into shopping malls and real estate projects, opening 12 malls in five years with plans for seven more, as well as mixed-use projects in the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and India.
“Our main business is hypermarkets, not shopping malls,” Yusuffali said. “But, why we are going in shopping malls is the shopping malls will complement hypermarkets and the hypermarkets will complement the shopping malls. This is our model.
“I will stick only in the core business, because I’m not a person for experiment. Diversification, from the company's point of view, will always be in related sector. Hypermarkets, malls, hospitality, money exchange, food service, entertainment centres, etcetera, will be our focus area.”
Among the latest malls, EMKE opened India’s biggest shopping mall, in Kochi, in March this year.
With $400m of investment planned for the sub-continent – “a huge market” - it included the first five-star Marriott Hotel, adjacent to the Lulu Shopping Mall, early next year as well as India’s biggest convention centre and a five-star Hyatt hotel in Bolghati, Kochi, and another convention centre in Calicut.
To beef up its retail and exports business, the group was also investing heavily in developing a logistics centre and cold storage facility in Kochi.
Personally, Yusuffali was investing in India’s banking sector, spending a reported Rs5.1bn buying a 4.99 percent stake in Kerala-based Dhanalaxmi Bank and close to a 5 per cent stake each in the Federal Bank and Catholic Syrian Bank.