After acquiring stakes in London-based East India Company and the former headquarters of Scotland Yard, the Abu Dhabi based Lulu Group International is planning to expand its business to more European countries….reports Kaliph Anaz from London
Yusuff Ali MA, the billionaire businessman and the Managing Director of the Lulu Group, told Asian Lite in an exclusive interview that European markets are picking up after the worst recession of the century.
The group has recently acquired former headquarters of Scotland Yard in London and opened a multi-million warehouse with all modern facilities in Birmingham. The Lulu Group has mustered Galliard, the UK property developer, to complete a £110 million deal to create a five-star hotel at Great Scotland Yard in the latest deal by an Indian investor to look to profit from London’s property market. The plans for the site of the Metropolitan Police’s first headquarters involves a £50m refurbishment to be completed by 2017. The hotel is targeting to attract high end customers.
The Lulu Group, which operates in 31 countries, earlier bought a 10 per cent stake in the East India Company and a 40 per cent stake in its fine foods subsidiary for around £50m in total in 2014. The company is now aiming to expand its store network in Europe, the Far East and preparing for a launch in the United States.
Mr Yusuff Ali said British products are a favourite among his customers across the world. Tata Group, which owns Tetley Tea, and the arrival of retail giants like Emke Group will herald a new era of Indian dominance in the British market.
Mr Yusuff Ali was one among the top 20 CEOs attended the Indo-UK CEO Forum meeting during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit. The Forbe’s billionaire said India’s decision to open 15 key sectors for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), will propel the country to the top echelons of global business sector.
India government has allowed FDI in key sectors like defence, construction, civil aviation and media and eased norms for businesses such as single-brand retail and private banking and allowed the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) to clear proposals up to Rs 5,000 crore from Rs 3,000 crore earlier.
Mr Yusuff Ali said Modi’s decision will reinforce India’s image as a happening country and will attract global investors.
“Indian economy was stagnated for a long time because of the delay in taking strategic decisions,” Yusuff Ali said. “Within the last 18 months, Modi and his Finance Minister Arun Jaitley are unleashing the power of Indian economy through various projects like Make in India, Digital India etc.
“The vibrant democracy with 1.3 billion residents can tilt the fate of global brands and global economy,” Yusuff Ali, an authority on world retail market said. “The future of India is bright because India has the world’s largest youth population.”
With 356 million 10-24 year-olds, India has the world’s largest youth population despite having a smaller population than China.
Regarding the ongoing tolerance debates in India, Mr Yusuff Ali said India is a huge country with a diverse population of 1.3 billion people.
“Issues will rise, but I hope it won’t distract the country to achieve its targets,” said Mr Ali. “Rome is not built on a day. Modi has just completed 18 months and it will take some more time to reach the reforms agenda at the lower strata of the system. Then only the people can enjoy the real benefits of the reforms.
“India needs investments in infra-structure projects especially in roads and bridges. Public-private partnership in converting railway stations, FDI in defence sector, multi-billion smart city projects, Digital India campaign besides Make In India will transform India.”
Mr Modi mentioned the Lulu Group’s Scotland Yard project besides the Tata’s Jaguar take over during his historic address at British Parliament.
Mr Yusuff Ali was one among the 20 top CEOs of Indian-origin attended the meeting chaired by Modi and Cameron along with Tata Group chairman Mr Cyrus Mistry. Other attendees are Sunil Bharti Mittal, Uday Kotak, TK Kurien of Wipro, CK Birla Aditya Puri of HDFC and Dr Jyotsna Suri of Bharat Hotels.