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\nChairman, Landmark Group
\nCan anyone stop Micky Jagtiani? Judging by the performance of his Landmark Group, it seems unlikely. For the former London taxicab driver, the decision to launch a single store in Bahrain back in 1973 has proved pivotal.
\nFast forward to 2016 and Jagtiani is making headlines all over the world. In September last year, he was reported to be the mastermind behind a shareholder revolt at one of the UK’s top department stores, Debenhams.
\nJagtiani’s wealth stems from his interest in the privately-held Landmark Group, now one of the largest retail conglomerates in the region. It has interests spanning fashion, footwear, cosmetics and sportswear, and has also expanded into confectionary, homeware and home electronics.
\nLandmark operates a string of international stores such as New Look, Shoemart, Steve Madden and Kurt Geiger and has also developed its own brands including Maxx Fashion, Splash, the Baby Shop and the Home Centre. With all those brands, it’s not surprising Jagtiani’s operations have a turnover of an estimated $5bn a year. It has a presence in the Middle East, Africa and the Indian subcontinent, with 2,000 outlets, 50,000 employees and commands a staggering 24 million square feet of retail of space.
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\nChairman, Lulu Group International
\nYusuffali MA’s LuLu International has garnered its fair share of headlines over the course of the past year. Whether it’s hobnobbing with Barack Obama and Narendra Modi, buying up prime real estate in London or expanding LuLu International into new emerging markets, the Kerala-born businessman clearly has no intention of resting on his laurels.
\nLast month, Deloitte ranked LuLu as 165th biggest retailer in the world, with revenues of $5.6bn in 2014. It was also ranked as 25th fastest growing retailer based on revenues between 2009-2014.
\nBut Yusuffali also has considerable investments elsewhere, including stakes in several of India’s largest banks. He owns India’s largest mall, in Kochi, and is in the process of building what he sees as his most ambitious project yet — the Bolghatty International Convention Centre, which will be the largest facility of its type in Asia.
\nThis year, for the first time, Yusuffali has provided Arabian Business with an exclusive breakdown of his wealth. The investment in his business is valued at a shade under $2.5bn, with the current value of his real estate portfolio amounting to just under $1.6bn. The rest of the valuation is made up from holdings in stocks and bonds ($310m); plus cars, other vehicles and his private jet ($75m); jewellery, precious metals and watches ($24m); cash in hand and others.
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5.The Allana family
\nFounders, IFFCO Group
\nThe Allana family are riding high in this year’s Rich List thanks to the roaring success of IFFCO Group and the Allana Group. Following the death of the founder of the Allana Group, Abdul Razak Allana, his three sons — Feroz (above), Irfan and Shiraz — have taken centre stage and are driving the group’s business.
\nEstablished in 1975, IFFCO is a UAE-based business house, which manufactures and markets a well-integrated range of consumer products. IFFCO operates under the following business segments: fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), commodities, oils, frozen foods and institutional services. IFFCO also manufactures related derivatives and intermediates associated with these business segments. IFFCO brands include London Dairy, Tiffany, Noor, Rahma, Igloo and Al Baker.
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\nIt has become a household name in the UAE, and no wonder. The Choithrams supermarket brand was originally set up in West Africa in 1944 by Thakurdas Choithram Pagarani, although it is the company’s current chairman who is credited with much of its success.
\nThe elder Pagarani opened the first grocery in Sierra Leone and over the last seven decades Choithram & Sons has developed into an international company spanning Europe, North America, Africa and the Gulf.
\nThree decades ago, Choithrams established its first UAE store and now has a total of 25 across the emirates as well as the GCC.
\nToday, the firm is led by LT Pagarani, who continues to expand the brand across the Middle East.
\nAside from retail, the company also has interests in food services, hospitality, garments and household appliances, and logistics and distribution.
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\nExecutive Director, Jashanmal Group
\nIf it is retail you’re after, then Tony Jashanmal is your man. His Jashanmal Group started from humble beginnings with just one store in Iraq in 1919 and has grown into one of the most successful retail conglomerates in the region. Currently it has over 150 stores in the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman, while its distribution network extends to more than 1,000 outlets. It has brand tie-ups with the likes of Clarks, Bally, Kate Spade, TM Lewin, Electrolux and Hoover.
\nJashanmal overseas the retail and wholesale trading of high-end luxury and consumer goods and services. The company represents various global retail franchises in the region and operates a newspaper and magazines division which oversees the marketing and distribution of books and magazines in the Gulf region.
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15.The Chhabria family
\nShareholders, Jumbo Group
\nFounded in 1974, the flagship of Jumbo Group, Jumbo Electronics, is a partner for some of the world’s top brands. The company’s founder, Manohar R Chhabria, established the first Jumbo Electronics retail outlet in Dubai’s bustling commercial district Bur Dubai. The company secured exclusive distribution rights for Sony in 1975, initiating its rise to become one of the largest distributors of the Japanese brand anywhere on the planet. Vidya Chhabria took over the reins of the Jumbo Group after her husband’s death in 2002, and the UAE-based family has gone from strength to strength in recent years. In the last financial year, the group is estimated to have raked in $1.5bn in revenues. The late Manohar Chhabria’s aggressive acquisitions of brands including Shaw Wallace and Mather & Platt earned him the nickname ‘takeover tycoon’.
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\nChairman, Rosy Blue Group
\nHarshad Mehta is the chairman of Rosy Blue Group, one of the world’s biggest diamond merchants. Born in 1947, his understanding of the diamond industry has allowed him to build a huge network of companies in 15 countries employing more than 15,000 people. Mehta is also the former vice-chairman of Dubai Diamond Exchange, chairman of the Governing Council of LIFE, an organisation comprising Saurashtra Medical and Charitable Trust and the Indian Medical Scientific Research Foundation.
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\nOwner, Joyalukkas Group
\nWhen a business refuses to compromise on quality, word typically spreads. This is one of the significant contributing factors to the enormous growth of Joyalukkas Jewellery, founded by Joy Alukkas in the UAE in 1987.
\nOver the past 28 years, Joyalukkas has expanded to four of the UAE emirates, as well as into Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UK, Singapore and his home country of India, where the brand also has made a name for itself in one of the most revered jewellery markets in the world.
\nThe company now boasts more than 10 million customers, more than 100 stores and the world’s largest jewellery showroom, in Chennai. At 70,000 square feet, over four storeys, it includes 1 million designs.
\nThe Joyalukkas Group is now a conglomerate spanning money exchange, luxury air charter (Joy Jets), fashion, silks and the Mall of Joy, located in Alukkas’ home city of Thrissur, Kerala. Total revenues are reportedly about $1.7bn annually.
\nAmid all the growth, the jewellery firm has consistently been recognised for its quality, including receiving the Dubai Quality Awards Certification from Dubai Ruler HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. All of this has earned Kerala-born Alukkas a strong reputation among retailers in the UAE.
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\nFounder, Apparel Group
\nOn the verge of achieving a long-time goal to open its 1,500th store, there is no question Apparel Group has a strong footing in the GCC retail industry.
\nStarting in 1999 with the UAE’s first Nine West shoe store, Nilesh Ved’s vision to bring American brands to the Middle East has certainly paid off. He now has rights to 55 international brands under his belt, including multiple other shoe brands such as Aldo and Sketchers, clothing brands such as Calvin Klein and Beverly Hills Polo Club, and food and beverage outlets such as Tim Hortons and Cold Stone Creamery.
\nOperations are now spread across the GCC, as well as in India, Russia, Poland, Thailand and Malaysia.
\nWith many of his ancestors also successful entrepreneurs — his family has run the largest gold bullion trading in Dubai since 1904 — Ved graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Boston University and quickly embarked on his own business voyage.
\nVed has often said that the staff are the company’s greatest strength and last year Apparel Group won an ‘employer of the year’ award and was listed among the best companies to work for.
\nThe Dubai Department of Economic Development also announced in December that it had rated the company in the ‘VIP Category’ for its compliance with business regulations and for successfully implementing the ‘self-inspector’ initiative. These accolades show Apparel Group is not only about quantity but also quality.
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\nFounder, Jacky’s Group
\nJacky Panjabi did not enter the UAE market quietly. His electronics showroom, launched in Deira in 1988, was at the time the only multi-brand retail outlet that offered wholesale, distribution and everything in between. It was the start of the Jacky’s Electronics empire that is perhaps the most well-known subsidiary of the Jacky’s Group of Companies, of which Panjabi is founder and managing director.
\nIn recent years, Panjabi has opened multiple Samsung branded stores across the UAE, under the subsidiary Jacky’s Retail. The Mall of the Emirates branch is one of the most successful globally according to sales per square foot.
\nHe was still a teenager — aged 16 or 17 — when he was first thrown into business, sent by his brother Ishwardas to Hong Kong to establish a mail order business in the trading hub, under the name Jacky’s International. Panjabi later used the contacts he established there to launch operations in Africa in 1994. The firm now has exclusive distribution rights in several countries for brands including Sony, Canon, Sharp and Black & Decker. Jacky’s also imports well-known food brands from the UK, the US, and Europe, such as Heinz, Kellogg’s and Kraft, supplying local supermarkets.
\nAbout half the company’s revenue is derived from the UAE, while about $200m is made in the Far East and $100m in Africa.
\nPanjabi told Arabian Business last year that he would now take stock of the business, rather than expand into unknown areas.
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\nCEO, Dhamani Jewels
\nAs yet another jewellery retailer on our list, Amit Dhamani has made his name — and his money — trading semi-precious stones and diamonds, as well as creating exclusive designs.
\nFounded by Amit Dhamani’s grandfather in 1969, the family business is now headquartered in Dubai and has operations across the United Arab Emirates, as well as in Thailand, Lebanon, Switzerland and India.
\nIn 2005, Dhamani created an exclusive diamond named after Dubai, the Dubai Cut. Its 99 facets represent each of the holy names of Allah and have helped make the rare stone become one of the most valuable and renowned in the diamond industry.
\nThe company has also successfully launched a men’s collection that takes advantage of the demand for luxury watches in the Gulf. Dhamani’s watch collection often features white diamonds, while there is also a range of bold rings and accessories for men.
\nDhamani has also established a reputation as a trusted supplier of loose cut stones to jewellers across the world, thanks to its policy of controlling the ethical sourcing and polishing of all jewels to ensure accountability.
\nAs Dubai’s dominance in the global diamond trade continues to rise, Dhamani is sure to continue its success at a similar pace.
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\nChairman, Regal Group
\nThe legendary Vasu Shroff first established Regal Traders on the banks of the Dubai Creek in 1952, initially to deal in wholesaling and indenting of fine fabrics from Japan and India. A pioneer in the region, the company grew under his astute leadership to become the flagship company of the Regal Group, setting up its first retail chain outlet in Dubai.
\nBest known as one of the UAE’s largest fabric retail chains, Regal offers an extensive range of fashionable fabrics from around the world and is the preferred source of quality fabrics to many of the UAE’s leading couture houses.
\nThe group has also diversified with subsidiaries including Regal Technologies, which is the direct-to-home distributor of channels such as OSN, Pehla and Al Jazeera. A Y T International provides a one-stop shop for equipment, testing and diagnostic systems.
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\nFounder and Chairman, Pure Gold Group
\nDespite owning a gold retail conglomerate that happens to be one of the biggest names in the industry, Firoz Merchant has never forgotten his roots. In a classic rags-to-riches story, what really sets Merchant apart from the rest is his phenomenal and very personal philanthropic ventures. Starting in 2011, he has helped repatriate about 4,000 insolvent prisoners from Dubai jails, forking out about $1m to pay off their debts. “I believe we have forgotten about this area. Nobody looks at this area,” he told Arabian Business last year. “My philosophy is simple: when I came from my country to the host country, I didn’t just come for the money. How can I pay back the country? Saying thanks is not enough. How good a human are you? You have to prove it.”
\nArriving in Dubai from Mumbai, Merchant started in 1989 with no capital, buying and selling gold bars for just AED5 ($1.36) profit at the start. Within three years, he had saved enough money to establish Pure Gold Group, which is now a $1bn retail phenomenon that comprises Pure Gold Jewellers, La Moda Sunglasses, Arianna and Pure Gold Properties. Two decades later, it has 125 outlets in 13 countries, including the GCC, Sri Lanka, Jordan, France, Singapore and India, a staff pool of over 3,500 and factories in China and India. Far from slowing down, Merchant plans to invest $130m to increase his network of stores to 250 by 2020.
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\nFounder, Marina Home Interiors
\nKhurshid Vakil, the co-founder of the Marina Home Interiors brand, admits to being “a perfectionist by nature”.
\nOne of the country’s most high-profile furniture stores, Marina Home Interiors, has increased turnover by 20 percent year-on-year for almost two decades, according to Vakil.
\nCreated in the UAE in 1998 following extensive research, the company is a niche retailer in the market.
\nWith products sourced from over 20 countries on four continents, Vakil says the success of the brand is his understanding of his customers’ trends, likes and dislikes.
\nAfter conquering the UAE, and following on the success of opening an outlet in Delhi in 2012, Vakil has set his sights on significant expansion in the region in the coming year.
\nWith stores in Bahrain and Oman, Marina Home Interiors, has plans to open flagship stores this yea`r in Qatar, as well as Portugal. There are also plans to open in Saudi Arabia in the near future.
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\nCEO, Lal’s Group
\nOne of the most diversi-fied business conglomerates in the UAE, the Lal’s Group of companies has multiple interests in retail, trading and hospitality. It also owns and operates Lamcy Plaza, one of the UAE’s most popular shopping destinations.
\nGanwani also oversees the Sharjah Shopping Mall and the Arabian Centre Mall. Altogether, he owns and runs more than 50 retail franchises, including Homes R Us, Mr Price, Bossini, G2000 and Daiso, with well over 130 stores across the region, spanning from Saudi Arabia to Oman.
\nGanwani, along with his friend Raju Shroff from the Regal Group, has diversified in recent years into real estate development, with two significant projects underway. Expected to be completed this summer, 118 in Downtown Dubai is a 14-storey development containing 27 expansive apartments. With a single apartment per floor (plus two duplexes that are 1,200 sq m in size), each will be sold for no less than $5.5m.
\nThe second development is a 45-storey tower in JLT, which will hosue a 207-key Vivanta by Taj hotel — one of the most well-known Indian brands — as well as 80 luxury residences.
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39.Dr Dhananjay Datar
\nManaging Director, Al Adil Trading
\nFrom a small grocery store established by his father in Bur Dubai in 1984, Dhananjay Datar has transformed Al Adil Trading into a major spice company with a presence right across the GCC region and beyond.
\nAl Adil Trading now has a chain of 30 retail outlets, two flour mills and two spice factories in the Middle East.
\nAnd the success story continues on. Products are largely sourced from his Mumbai-based firm, Masala King Exports, and late last year Datar announced that the company would further expand on its regional growth by establishing Masala King Export Trading in the UAE to manufacture a broad range of Indian food and grocery items.
\nIn 2015, Al Adil opened strategic outlets in Oman, Bahrain, Dubai and Sharjah, which has helped the company exceed its sales targets for the year.
\nWith 375 employees already, Datar has said he plans to open at least 20 more supermarkets that would cater to the UAE’s predominantly Indian expatriate community. The import and export side of the business also has been flourishing, with strong trading lines established in the US, Canada, Tanzania, Kenya, Switzerland, Italy and Eritrea, as well as in Kuwait, Oman and the UAE. He has also branched into Ayurvedic medicine and beauty care.
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\nFounder and Group Chairman, Eurostar Group
\nRaju Jethrani is founder of Eurostar, which sells consumer electronics and smart devices. It began operations in Saudi Arabia in the early 1980s, fast becoming a market leader in digital satellite receiving systems. Now headquartered in Dubai, Jethwani has built the group into a diversified conglomerate with businesses in tablets, smart phones, TV and entertainment products, real estate and fast moving consumer goods. It has an online shopping site, Goeurostar.com, through which customers can purchase its range of tablets and electronics, as well as British brand Fly by Eurostar products and other smart devices, such as LED TVs and wearable devices. The group is currently implementing ambitious growth plans that include reaching $1bn in revenues by 2020.