Abu Dhabi-based Lulu Group International that runs the Lulu Mall has major expansion plans for India. However, the group is currently embroiled in an ugly controversy over religious prayers being offered at the premises of the Lulu Mall.
A controversy sparked when a group of unidentified people allegedly offered namaz in the mall. The Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha and a few other right-wing outfits objected to the namaz being offered inside the mall premises and sought permission from the authorities to recite the Hanuman Chalisa there. The Lulu Mall authorities denied permission.
Several unidentified people have been booked on charges of promoting enmity between two communities.
The location of the controversy is the Lulu Mall in Lucknow, which was launched on July 10. This mall is part of the group’s Rs 14,000 crore expansion plans in the country. While announcing the launch of the Lulu Mall in Lucknow in February 2018, Yusuffali MA, Chairman and Managing Director of Lulu Group told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the group has earmarked $2 billion or Rs 14,000 crore for the Indian market. He also said that there are many investment opportunities in Kanpur and Noida.
The Lucknow Lulu Mall has been built at an investment of Rs 2,000 crore and is touted to provide more than 15,000 direct and indirect job opportunities. The group is also planning upcoming projects in Varanasi, Prayagraj, and Greater Noida that it expects to create more job opportunities.
The mall in Lucknow spans across 2.2 million sq ft, and is equipped with a multi-level parking facility for over 3,000 vehicles. It houses 15 fine dining restaurants and cafes, and a food court with 25 brand outlets, with a seating capacity of 1,600 visitors. It also has the largest Lulu Hypermarket, Lulu Fashion Store, Lulu Connect with other popular global brands and outlets.
The group has three more projects coming up as part of its expansion plans – Lulu Hypermarket in Kerala’s Palakkad, Lulu Mall in Kerala’s Calicut and another Lulu Mall in Kerala’s Kottayam, as per its website. There are already two more Lulu malls in Thiruvananthapuram, and Kochi, and a Global Mall in Bengaluru. Lulu Group International that runs these properties operates in 42 countries, and has an annual turnover of $8 billion, with a staffing strength of 60,000.
UAE-based Indian businessman Yusuffali MA who runs the company, hails from Thrissur district in Kerala. He was the first expatriate to be elected as the Director Board member of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ADCCI). In 2021, he became the only non-Arab to be in the Director Board of ADCCI for a record four times in a row.
Yusuffali MA, who started the first Lulu Hypermarket in 1990, was named the top-most Indian businessman in the Arab world in 2018 by Forbes. The group initially started as a family business venture, and gradually diversified into various businesses. The tycoon is also known for his philanthropic activities. He reportedly donated $6.8 million in order to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, and donated a 1,400-bed treatment centre in Kerala.
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