‘Business is driven by people, not just concepts’

‘Business is driven by people, not just concepts’

Adeeb Ahmad, CEO of  Lulu International Exchange, talks about his vision to make the organisation the first choice in financial services by setting high standards of customer satisfaction

You are the Chief Executive Officer of a leading financial services company which is poised for a major growth in the sector. Your plans for its global expansion?

We have a number of plans chalked up for our entities over the next few years. For its next milestone, Lulu Exchange Holdings is looking towards the Asia Pacific and Europe region. With a number of initiatives being taken up by governments around the world for moving towards a digital tomorrow, we  believe that our businesses should keep up with the technological innovations of the time. With this in mind, we aim to move 30 per cent of our exchange and remittance business on to the digital platform by 2020.

Lulu is a group which has spread its operations across the globe and has left its imprint. How you are going to meet people’s expectations?

As a group we are committed to touching the lives of the discerning consumers and this has allowed us to stand out from the crowd. Lulu Exchange Holdings has come a long way from a one-branch firm to a multi-national company with more than 135 branches worldwide. We have continuously reinvented ourselves, be it through our offerings, technology or services. Addressing the needs of our consumers by providing the best value for money, we remain inclined to disrupt our business to change, reinvent and get better.

You are already in the Forbes list of 100 achievers. Any major goals set for this financial year?

I have always been of the firm belief that one should respect every human being and support those who are in need. Integrity is another value that I hold in high regard. My philosophy is that incredible possibilities can be created if we stay true to our duty. All these values have held me in good stead in my professional stint, too. The recognitions that have come my way are humbling and motivate me to work harder. For this financial year, we are focussing on going completely digital. Emerging technologies are driving change in the financial services and we are constantly innovating our method of doing business. While brick and mortar establishments will not completely disappear, a portion of business will shift to the digital platform. With better convenience and ease of selection, digital business is the way forward. 

How are you taking care of your HR capital and are the employees satisfied with you and your organisation?

I have been fortunate enough to have the backing of a strong team that has managed our rapid growth. We believe that business is driven by people and not just concepts. We are a young organisation. We encourage people who are passionate about their work and look forward to a long-term relationship with them. Our effort is to make every employee own the organisation and behave like an entrepreneur. Personally, I am very happy that my team shares my vision for our business and its growth.

There are several reports of the global economic slowdown and the Middle East suffering from oil crisis which is related to the revenue of the GCC countries. Being headquartered in UAE, do you feel that this is a challenge?

In the coming years, we foresee durable growth and consolidation for various sectors in the Middle East. With greater economic diversification in place to reduce dependence on oil, the countries in the GCC are on a positive path ahead with improved prospects for businesses and individuals. On the back of this strong economic outlook supported by growing economic activity, we believe that the future is bright for the region.

Several people are losing jobs and the UAE market as such is facing a crisis, according to reports. What’s your take?

The GCC has an estimated 15 million migrant workers, more than five million of whom are in the UAE. Major infrastructure projects in the region linked to the World Expo 2020 in Dubai and the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in 2022 mean demand is likely to grow for skilled and unskilled workforce. Any setbacks are just temporary and with improved diversification across a number of sectors, the UAE along with other GCC countries will continue to maintain its position globally as one of the most sought-after places to work.

Are you into diversification just like all major global conglomerates?

Diversification is a natural step forward in an entrepreneurial journey. We have currently diversified into the organised retail and hospitality sectors through our ventures Tablez and Twenty14 Holdings. Twenty14 Holdings has already acquired an admirable clutch of prestigious properties spread across the world. We have two hotels in the GCC – the Steigenberger Hotel Business Bay in Dubai, UAE and the Sheraton Oman Hotel in Muscat, Oman. We also have a few properties, which are currently under different stages of construction and renovation, in India.

Our most prestigious project to date is the Great Scotland Yard Hotel in London, UK. We have a £110 million agreement with property developer Galliard Homes to convert the former headquarters of London’s Metropolitan Police Services into a high-end luxury boutique hotel that recaptures the history, culture and essence of the London of yore.

In the F and B sector, our organised retail arm, Tablez, has already set up shop for Cold Stone Creamery, Galito’s and home-grown brand Bloombsury’s in Bengaluru and Kochi with many more in the pipeline. We are also looking at diversifying into multiple product categories and have chosen fashion as one of the key areas of growth. Starting with our current portfolio of Springfield and Women’s Secret, we will continue to invest in the organised retail sector with a vision of becoming a significant player in this space.



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