Yusuff Ali M.A. is an Indian businessman from Nattika in Thrissur district of Kerala. He is the Managing Director of Abu Dhabi-headquartered EMKE LuLu Group of companies that owns the Lulu Hypermarket chain in Middle East. With an annual turnover of US $5.5 billion globally, LuLu Group International employs the largest number of Indians outside India. According to Forbes, Yusuff Ali is currently the 24th wealthiest Indian and the 270th (as on 9 August 2016) richest in the world, with a personal wealth of $4.3 billion. In 2013, Ali acquired 4.99% equity in the 93-year-old Thrissur based Catholic Syrian Bank (CSB) and increased his stake in the Aluva-based Federal Bank to 4.47 per cent. In 2016, Ali purchased the Scotland Yard Building in London.
Yusuff Ali was born in Thrissur district on November 15, 1955. He completed his schooling from Nattika and moved to Gujarat where he did his diploma in Business Management & Administration. After the studies he left India in 1973 to Abu Dhabi where his paternal uncle, MK Abdullah, the Chairman and the founder of the EMKE Group of companies was doing business. He developed the import and wholesale distribution of the group and ventured in to the supermarket business by launching Lulu Hypermarket. He started his first Lulu Hypermarket in the 1990s, a time when the UAE’s retail sector witnessed a major change, with the traditional groceries and supermarkets yielding place to large neighborhood stores and hypermarkets. While the entry of Continent (now Carrefour) in 1995 changed the face of retail business in Dubai, Yusuff Ali took charge of Abu Dhabi’s retail sector by rolling out LuLu Hypermarket in Abu Dhabi.
EMKE Group (LuLu Group International)
The EMKE Group alias LuLu Group International commenced its operations as a family business venture. After joining the business, Yusuff Ali diversified the business to include import and distribution of frozen products from Europe and the US. The products were available not only in Abu Dhabi but also in the interiors of the Emirates too. The business was soon expanded to include both food & non-food categories. The group also started cold storages, meat and food processing plants, large-scale import and distribution to hotel groups, catering companies, and shipping services. By the 1980s, the group had a sizable share of the wholesale and retail food market in the UAE.
The Group headquartered in Abu Dhabi has grown into an international group with operations spread over three continents. EMKE Group’s flagship retail chain of LuLu Hypermarkets and Supermarkets is currently rated as one of the major players in the Middle East retail sector with more than 100 stores in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Arab states. Apart from the hypermarkets, supermarkets and department stores, the group also owns several shopping malls, namely, Khalidiyah Mall, Al Raha Mall, Al Wahda Mall, Mushriff Mall, Madinat Zayed Mall, Mazyad Mall, Ramli Mall, RAK Mall, Al Foah Mall, and Al Khor Mall, spread across the GCC states. LuLu Shopping Mall in Kochi, Kerala was opened on 10 March 2013. It is the group’s first retail venture in India and currently the largest shopping mall in India. Another ambitious project in progress is the Riyadh Avenue Mall in Saudi Arabia. The Group has a vast organizational structure of over 35,600 employees, representing 37 different nationalities, out of which more than 28,900 are Indians. Retail business is the mainstay of the Group with operations in major Middle East and African countries like UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and Kenya having Retail Sourcing and manufacturing bases located in Far East, India, Africa and Guangzhou in China. Indian operations mainly include Food Processing, Export of Food & Non food products and convention center with bases in Delhi, Lucknow, Mumbai, Chennai, Cochin and Trichur.
Deloitte has ranked the Group as one of the ten fastest growing retailers in the world. Planet Retail UK has also ranked the Group as the No.1 Hypermarket chain in the region.
Yusuff Ali is very closely involved in many social, charitable and humanitarian activities both in India as well as in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf. He has done various philanthropic 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. Yusuff Ali contributed and took initiative to open a multi-faith funeral centre for the Indian community in Sharjah that spread across 8.3 acres. He also took initiative to sell and promote organic products grown by the special needs community in UAE through LuLu Hypermarkets . Yusuff Ali donated generously towards the Gujarat earthquake, Tsunami Relief Fund in Asia, and Typhoon and flood relief in other parts of the world. He is also actively involved in ensuring the social, economic and religious welfare of expatriate Indians in the Persian Gulf region. He played a major role in finding land for the Christian community in the region to build churches and secure cremation grounds for the Hindu populace in the Persian Gulf. M. A. Yusuff Ali also extended help to Indians during the amnesty period in the Persian Gulf when hundreds of Indians lost their livelihood. He helped rehabilitate people who lost their livelihood in the Calicut market fire as well.