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He is also actively

involved in

ensuring the social,

economic and

religious welfare of

expatriate Indians

in the Arabian Gulf

region. He played

a major role in

procuring land

for the Christian

community in the

region to build

churches and was

instrumental in

securing cremation

grounds for the

Hindu populace in

the Gulf. He helped

rehabilitate people

who lost their

livelihood in the

Calicut market fire

as well.

s

s

10

Saudi Gazette, Saturday, February 25, 2017

Economy

IN BRIEF

N

E

W

S

ENTERPRISING

ENTREPRENEUR

Saudi Gazette report

I

NDIA has always pro-

duced entrepreneurs who

have made a mark not

only within its borders but

also outside. We are all

familiar with the names

of the Birlas, Hindujas, Tatas,

Wadias, Ambanis who have im-

pacted the Indian economy.

In 1970s many Indians went

to the Gulf and started small

business and who today through

sheer hard work, enterprise,

innovation risk and creativity

are becoming household names

not only in the Gulf but in Asia

and Africa. These include B.R.

Shetty, Sunny Varkey, Ravi Pillai

and M.A. Yuseff Ali founder of

the MK Group known by the

brand name — LuLu. He stands

tall among them all.

Born in 1955 in Kerala, In-

dia, Yuseff obtained his diploma

in the field of Business Manage-

ment and Administration from

Gujarat before leaving India

in 1973 to join his uncle M.K.

Abdullah in Abu Dhabi, who had

founded the EMKE Group of

companies. Once he learned the

trade from Abdullah, he devel-

oped the wholesale distribution

as well as the imports of the

company and also ventured into

the business of supermarkets.

In 1990 he launched the first

Lulu Hypermarket. At the time,

the retail sector in the UAE was

making a rapid shift towards

marketplaces and hypermarkets,

and LuLu was in perfect posi-

tion to take the lead in the retail

business.

Today, Yuseff Ali is the

Chairman and Managing Direc-

tor of the Abu Dhabi-based LuLu

Group of Companies, which had

a last reported $6.2 billion annual

retail revenue. The company also

has the distinction of having on

its payroll the highest number

of Indians employed outside of

India.

Just this week, Lulu Group

International was ranked among

the 50 fastest-growing retailers

in the world in a Deloitte Global

survey. The group, which owns

LuLu Hypermarket chain, has

also featured among the top 250

global retailers in the Global

Powers of Retailing 2017: “The

art and science of customers”

report released by the leading

international auditing firm on

Thursday. The group owns 133

stores including hypermarkets

and supercenters, and is present

in 9 countries in Asia and Middle

East.

The group recently opened

its eighth hypermarket in Saudi

Arabia in the northwestern city

of Hail. The new hypermarket

is spread over an area of about

160,000 square feet and will

serve the residents of Al Jami-

yeen District and its surrounding

areas.

“We have to expand aggres-

sively here as the Kingdom is

investing in its industries, which

means more jobs and business,”

M. A. Yuseff Ali, chairman of

LuLu Group, said in a statement.

The LuLu group has plans to

open 20 more stores by 2020.

Speaking of his early years,

Yuseff Ali, a persona in humility,

said “Like many thousands of

Indians of that era, I also came

to the shores of UAE in search

of new opportunities. My father

and uncles had a trading business

Abu Dhabi on those days and I

came and joined them. It used to

be a small trading shop in the old

souk area of Abu Dhabi. Those

days the life and infrastructures

in Abu Dhabi was a far cry from

what it is today. Though life was

tough and difficult due to lack

of electricity, AC, water and

drainage system, we still enjoyed

those days as we all stayed as

one big family and enjoyed the

smallest pleasures together.”

“The UAE had just come into

being and even basic infrastruc-

tures such as electricity, water

supply, sewerage system were

yet to be functional. I remember

sleeping on the roof of the house

in Madinat Zayed area in those

sultry hot summer evenings

when air-conditioners were

unheard of.”

On what propelled him and

his company onto the global

stage, Yuseff Ali said, “In the

early 90s during the peak of the

Gulf War, while investors were

hesitant to invest in the Gulf

region, we decided to go ahead

and launch supermarkets and

department stores throughout

the UAE. With a staff strength

of over 40,000 today we control

more than 32% of organized

retail sector with 131 hypermar-

kets and supermarkets spread

across the GCC, India, Far East

and Egypt.” The group also has

substantial interests in manufac-

turing, import-export, wholesale

and retail trading, IT, travel and

tourism, and shipping among

others.

But it is not financial success

or monetary rewards that drive

him. Yuseff Ali believes his

greatest sense of achievement

is “The fact that I could bring

smiles into the lives of many

people, be it my staff and their

families, my countrymen or for

that matter people in need. On

the corporate or materialistic

front, I could not ask for more,

but yes, I pray every day for the

strength to continue do my bit

in the further strengthening of

humanity in every possible way.”

Yuseff Ali’s charitable and

humanitarian nature is legendary.

He has done various philanthrop-

ic activities across the globe. As

part of its global CSR policy, the

LuLu Group joined hands with

Dubai Cares and adopted schools

in Gaza and Nepal. Yuseff Ali

contributed and took initiative to

open a multifaith funeral center

for the Indian community in

Sharjah that spread across 8.3

acres. He also took initiative to

sell and promote organic prod-

ucts grown by the special needs

community in UAE through

LuLu Hypermarkets. Yuseff Ali

donated generously towards the

Gujarat earthquake, Tsunami Re-

lief Fund in Asia, and Typhoon

and flood relief in other parts of

the world.

He is also actively involved

in ensuring the social, economic

M.A. Yuseff Ali, right,

seen in this file picture. —

Courtesy photo

LuLu’s Yuseff Ali’s charitable and

humanitarian nature is legendary

and religious welfare of expatri-

ate Indians in the Arabian Gulf

region. He played a major role in

procuring land for the Christian

community in the region to build

churches and was instrumental

in securing cremation grounds

for the Hindu populace in the

Gulf. M. A. Yuseff Ali also ex-

tended help to Indians during the

amnesty period in the Gulf when

hundreds of Indians lost their

livelihood. He helped rehabilitate

people who lost their livelihood

in the Calicut market fire as well.

Yuseff Ali is a guiding light

of hope for people in India and

across the world for his commit-

ted approach to business, and

equal devotion to philanthropy

and to corporate social responsi-

bility. His commitment to charity

is a great inspiration. This is

truly an Indian who produced his

gold, not just for himself but for

the benefit of all.

LONDON

Peugeot boss reassures UK union

The head of French carmaker PSA played down the threat to British plants

as he discussed his potential takeover of GM’s European operations during

a visit to London on Friday. Carlos Tavares, chief executive of Peugeot-maker

PSA, has been on a charm offensive to reassure politicians and unions that

any deal to buy the Opel business would not lead to large-scale job losses.

Germany accounts for about half of Opel’s 38,000 staff, while 4,500 are

in Britain where Opel operates as Vauxhall. Tavares met the Unite union’s

General Secretary Len McCluskey on Friday. “He talked in terms of not

being here to shut plants. That’s not his nature,” McCluskey, the head of

the country’s biggest union, told reporters, adding the talks were “relatively

positive”. The union leader said he was pleased with some of the assurances

Tavares gave, such as production commitments being met should the takeover

go-ahead. But McCluskey said there remained a lot of issues to discuss,

including that of pensions. The Vauxhall pension scheme has a deficit of up

to 1 billion pounds ($1.25 billion) according to a source. PSA said this week it

would respect existing labor agreements if a deal took place.

— Reuters

HONG KONG

Standard Chartered reports profit

Asia-focused bank Standard Chartered on Friday announced it swung back to

profitability, after it was able dampen the effect of bad loans. Chief executive

Bill Winters described the results as “good progress”, but said the figures

were still not up to scratch. “Our financial returns are not yet where they need

to be and do not reflect the Group’s earnings potential. “Having worked hard

to secure our foundations we are now focused on realizing that potential,”

said Winters, who has been in the job for a year-and-a-half. Pre-tax profits

were back in the black at $409 million, compared to the previous year’s loss

of $1.52 billion, the London-based company said in a filing to the Hong Kong

stock exchange. The bank’s underlying loan impairment was brought down

by 40 percent at $2.382 billion, compared to the year before. But operating

profit, which excludes one-time items, was at $1.09 billion, missing the average

of 13 analysts’ estimates polled by Bloomberg, who had predicted $1.42

billion. The company also still saw a net loss of $247 million, an improvement

from last year’s net loss of $2.19 billion. Standard Chartered in late 2015

announced it was re-focusing on “affluent retail clients” rather than corporate

and institutional banking businesses.

— AFP

LONDON

RBS annual losses hit £7b

Royal Bank of Scotland said Friday that annual losses more than trebled in

2016 on litigation and restructuring costs, triggering more job cuts and a

fresh round of savings. RBS, bailed-out by the British government following

the 2008 financial crisis, posted its ninth consecutive annual losses last year.

Its net loss for 2016 came in at £6.95 billion ($8.7 billion, 8.2 billion euros),

up from a loss after tax of £1.98 billion a year earlier, RBS said in a statement.

“There will be job losses that we will have to go through to get this business

back into shape,” said chief executive Ross McEwan, who would not be

drawn on an exact figure. The Edinburgh-based lender said it had been hit

by litigation and conduct costs of almost £5.9 billion, largely over its role in

the 2008 US subprime housing crisis. It suffered also restructuring charges

totaling £2.1 billion during 2016. RBS is around 73-percent owned by the

British government after the lender was saved with £45.5 billion of taxpayers’

cash in the world’s biggest banking bailout at the height of the global financial

crisis. It has meanwhile reported total losses of around £60 billion since the

state rescue. In recent years, McEwan has overseen a massive overhaul of

operations, slashing the bank’s investment banking activities and axing tens of

thousands of jobs.

— AFP

LONDON

Norwegian Air launches $65 flights

Budget-conscious travelers can now book $65 trans-Atlantic flights on

Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA , the company announced on Thursday, ramping

up pressure on US carriers to compete with increasingly low fare international

airlines. Beginning in mid-June, the low-cost European carrier will launch one-

way flights from Stewart International Airport in Orange County, New York, T.F.

Green Airport in Providence, Rhode Island, and Bradley International Airport

in Hartford, Connecticut to destinations in Ireland and the United Kingdom.

“I pay for what I want, you pay for what you want. We don’t pay for what

everybody else on the plane wants,” spokesman Anders Lindström said of

the tax-inclusive low fares. Thousands of tickets will be offered at the $65

introductory rate. Tickets on the next pricing tier start at $99, taxes included.

This compares to one-way New York to Dublin air ticket prices of about $655

to just over $2,755 being offered by other airlines for mid-June, online travel

website Expedia shows.

— Reuters