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Tablez bets on stores to grow global brands in India

Lulu Group unit eyes store expansion in fashion, toys and ice cream segments

Raghu Krishnan  |  Bengaluru 

Lulu, which has over 130 stores in the UAE and Africa, believes India will see growth from offline stores before online expands
Lulu, which has over 130 stores in the UAE and Africa, believes India will see growth from offline stores before online expands

India, the unit of the UAE’s largest retailer Lulu Group, is in talks to bring around six global brands to India and expand its stores in fashion, toys and ice cream in the country.

plans to set up 15 Cold Stone Creamery stores; 70-odd stores of Spanish fashion brands and Women’secret; 75 outlets of Toys “R” Us in the country, each of them exclusive to the group. The first outlet of Toys “R” Us is set to open in Bengaluru in two months.

“Our aim is to make an everyday company. How can you target (a consumer for) 30 days, targeting different brands every day. Whether it is apparel, cosmetics, essentials such as shampoos. We are looking at the 16-35 age group, toys and sports,” said Adeeb Ahamed, managing director of in an interview.

operates the country’s largest hypermarket at Kochi in Kerala, which it says is a model it had pioneered to get consumers to shop regularly at a single place.

Ahamed, who is the son-in-law of founder Yusuff Ali M A, said the firm was betting on retail stores in India, looking at an opportunity to introduce brands and become profitable. “I don’t look for valuation. If that was the case, I would have done 100 stores in a year, burn x amount of money and close 30 stores,” he said. “Our aim is to be net profitable.”

Lulu, which has over 130 stores in the UAE and Africa, believes that India will see growth from offline stores before online expands significantly. The firm plans to invest around ~250 crore in its stores in the country.

“The next decade is a brick-and-mortar story in India,” said Ahamed. “On a hypermarket format, we have no doubts, it is going to stay. That is not going to change to e-commerce. For us, this is the time to develop brick and mortar in India.”

While he pointed out that retail stores in the UK had adopted online, even as they are retaining small storefronts for customers to experience brands, Indian consumers are yet to see mass adoption of brands that they can look and buy online.

“In India, have we skipped that trend? For us, in order to skip people have to interact with the brands. A lot of brands have directly gone to e-commerce. The question to them is, how confident are you that the Indian consumers have touched, felt, and experienced your products to be sure that 100 per cent of them are online,” Ahamed says.

He cited the example of Amazon buying Whole Foods, an offline retail chain in the US market, to expand its presence to neighbourhood stores. In India, several online brands such as Lenskart, Urban Ladder and even Amazon is exploring offline stores to reach out to more customers.

“That connection (people interaction) is very important,” Ahamed said.


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