Company: Palmon Group
Wealth: 530 Million
A fortuitous meeting in 1984 changed the life of Manohar Lahori, the founder of Mumbai-based garment manufacturer, the Palmon Group.
During a stop-off in Dubai, Lahori visited Jebel Ali, where the UAE’s first free zone was in the process of being set up. He met with the then-chairman of DP World, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, who was seeking new companies to set up at the free zone. Convinced about its potential future as a fast-growing trading hub, Lahori set up shop in the Jebel Ali Free Zone in 1985.
In the 30-plus years since, Palmon has grown away from its original core business of clothes manufacturing and branched into a series of other sectors, including logistics, warehousing, fashion, facilities management, food and beverages and interior design. The group also has extensive investments in property both in the UAE and overseas.
The move from clothing manufacturing was enforced by growing competition from Chinese manufacturers, who began to flood the market with cheaper goods in the late 1990s, forcing Palmon Group to close down its last major garment factory in Jebel Ali.
The family firm has in recent years begun shifting management to a new generation. Daughter Meher Mirchandani is the managing director of Palmon Group and CEO of Meher & Riddhima, the group’s fashion design business; son Chirag Lahori, director of operations and business development; Kunal Lahori, another son, together with his wife, run the group’s new food and beverage division, including Pret To Go, the flagship brand. In addition, Reshma Lahori, Manohar’s wife, looks after Desert Blues, the firm’s garment-trading business.
The group has plans to expand Palmon’s industrial real estate division, which plans to build 1 million sq ft of warehousing and logistics space in the coming years, which is one of the three key pillars of growing for the group — F&B and fashion are the other two.