Lulu group, which has built five shopping malls in India with Rs. 7,000 crore investment, now plans to develop about a dozen more malls as the UAE-based group sees huge growth opportunities in the Indian retail space.
The group has five operational malls in India at Kochi, Trivandrum, Thrissur, Bengaluru and Lucknow, comprising about 3.7 million square feet of leasable area.
Shibu Philips, Director-Shopping Malls of Lulu Group India, said the Indian retail market is still "under-utilised" with the share of organised retail being still low.
"India is an extremely important market for Lulu. It is a young population whose per capita income and consumption are increasing. It is a very under-utilised market because if you look at the organised retail, it is still only 12 per cent. So, I believe that there is a lot of opportunities here if you have the right business model. Lulu is completely focused on India," he told PTI in an interview.
In the first phase of the shopping mall business in India, Philips said the Lulu group invested about Rs 7,000 crore to develop five shopping malls, of which Bengaluru property is not owned by it.
Last month, the group launched a large shopping mall, comprising 2.2 million square feet of built-up area and one million square feet of leasable area, in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.
The mall, developed at an investment of about Rs 2,000 crore, has over 300 international and national brands.
About the future expansion of mall business in India, Philips said "we are planning to have smaller malls of around 0.5 million square feet in the major districts of Kerala."
He said the group is currently constructing malls in Kerala in Calicut, Kottayam, Tirur, Perinthalmanna and Palakkad. Some of these properties will be fully owned and some will be on a lease basis.
That apart, it is refurbishing an existing mall in Hyderabad which will be operational in early 2023.
Philips said as many as six shopping malls are currently in the pipeline in Chennai, Ahmedabad, Prayagraj, Varanasi, Bengaluru and Noida.
"We are actively looking at land in Ahmedabad for a one million square feet mall there. And we have a similar plan in mind for Chennai," he said.
On planned investment for the second phase of expansion of mall business in India, he said the same is being finalised and will be announced in due course.
In October last year, Lulu Group Chairman and Managing Director M A Yusuff Ali had told PTI that it sees tremendous growth potential in the Indian retail segment, which was among the most affected sector between April 2020 and July 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Being a retail organisation with almost four decades of experience, we have gone through ups and downs. But obviously, the worst is behind us. Things cannot go worse than that. In difficult and challenging times, we have to make adjustments and fine-tune things, but now I can fairly say with confidence, that it is only going forward.
"Travel restrictions have eased out, people are vaccinated, they are more careful about themselves, people are eager to come out and enjoy and lead the life back. Enough of virtual and digital life. We are seeing tremendous growth potential," Ali had observed.
Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, the diversified Lulu group has an annual turnover worth USD 8 billion.
The group's business portfolio ranges from hypermarket operations to shopping mall development, manufacturing and trading of goods, food processing plants, wholesale distribution, hospitality assets, and real estate development.
Lulu group has operations spread over 23 countries.