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Retail king Yusuff Ali's amazing success story

By Raghavendra Kamath
Last updated on: July 31, 2015 15:44 IST
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Ranked 737 in the Forbes global billionaire list with personal wealth of $2.4 billion, Yusuffali's diversification does not stop here.

Yusuff Ali seen with former late President APJ Kalam. Photograph: Courtesy, Yusuff Ali/Facebook

For Yusuffali Musaliam Veettil Abdul Kader, or Yusuff Ali MA as he is better known as, diversification is a natural trait. Born in Nattika in the Thrissur district of Kerala in 1955,

Yusuffali left the country in 1973 when he was 18 to join his uncle MK Abdullah in Abu Dhabi.

The latter ran a manufacturing company there. Yusuffali developed the import and wholesale distribution of the group, and soon ventured into retail.

In the 1990s, he launched a chain of supermarkets called Lulu.

 Yusuff Ali is the s the managing director of the $5.8-billion Lulu Group.

Today, he owns over 100 supermarkets and grocery outlets and is the managing director of the $5.8-billion Lulu Group.

His business has acquired a global scale with presence in Malaysia, Indonesia and India.

With hospitality as his next area of interest, the 60-year-old staked a claim on history this week after he entered into a $170-million agreement with London-based property developer Galliard Homes to create a five-star hotel at the site of the original Scotland Yard Police Station in London.

He has set up a separate hospitality arm, Twenty14 Holdings, to focus on acquisition and management of assets around the globe.

Yusuff Ali shakinghands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an Indo-Geman summit. Photograph: Courtesy, Yusuff Ali/Facebook

The hotel arm is looking to expand its operations in Europe, North America and India, it has been reported. Recently, the company acquired a property at Business Bay in Dubai, which is expected to open in October.

It also jointly with Al Hashar Hotel owns the Sheraton Oman Hotel in Muscat.

"The future growth markets for us in the hospitality sector include Britain, West Asia, India and Southeast Asia," a Lulu spokesman was quoted in Abu Dhabi's The National.

"Since we are now firmly established in the retail sector, we want to diversify into hospitality as these two are complementary," he added.

Yusuff Ali is seen with US President Barrack Obama at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi. Photograph: Courtesy, Yusuff Ali/Facebook

Ranked 737 in the Forbes global billionaire list with personal wealth of $2.4 billion, Yusuffali's diversification does not stop here.

His companies, which have operational base in West Asia, Africa, Southeast Asia, India and the UK among others, employ 34,420 people from 37 nationalities.

A Padma Shree recipient, Yusuffali expanded his retail empire to India when he launched Lulu Hypermarket in Kochi in 2013.

He has also invested in food processing units in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Mumbai, and is building a mall and a food processing unit in Hyderabad.

Yusuff Ali seen with HE Badr bin Mohammed Al-Otaishan, Governor of Jubail touring the newly opened LULU Hypermarket along with HRH Prince Saud Bin Abdulla bin Abdul Aziz and other dignitaries. Photograph: Courtesy, Yusuff Ali/Facebook

He also has a presence in the Indian banking sector.

In 2013, he acquired a 4.99 per cent stake in the 93-year-old Catholic Syrian Bank in Thrissur and a 4.47 per cent stake in Kochi-based Federal Bank to become the biggest individual shareholder in the two Kerala-based lenders. The billionaire, though, also likes to give money to charity.

A website dedicated to him says: "Yusuffali is very closely involved in many social, charitable and humanitarian activities both in India as well as in West Asia, and plays a vital role in fostering the interests of non-resident Indians and keeping intact the communal harmony among them."

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Raghavendra Kamath
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