Abu Dhabi : Kerala-born M. A. Yusuffali is today dubbed as one of the most influential Indians in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a political and economic alliance of six Middle Eastern countries - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman.
He is the first non-Arab elected member of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Khaleej Times reported.
The Thrissur-born Yusuffali is managing director of the Middle East's retail giant Emke Lulu Group. The group is all set to register a 20 percent business growth this year, hitting $5.4 billion as the UAE's home-grown regional brand expanded outlets to 100 with the opening of a hypermarket at its newly built mall last week.
Lulu, which started out as supermarket and department store chain, has gradually moved onto to the big format hypermarkets (retail store that combines a department store and a grocery supermarket), and now manages 10 shopping malls in the GCC, said Yusuffali.
The retail major, accounting for 32 percent of the retail business within the GCC, cruised to a 19 percent sales growth in 2011 to $4.5 billion despite the general downturn.
Yusuffali said despite the global financial meltdown and industry-wide recession, the Lulu Group has gone ahead with its plan. It opened 23 hypermarkets and shopping malls in last three years in almost all major cities of the GCC.
Speaking to reporters over the weekend, Yusuffali said Lulu brand's success story would continue apace with the opening of more outlets in the Middle East and India this year.
He said the retail major would have four new stores in 2012 in the GCC and Egypt and would make a retail foray into India with the opening of a hypermarket by end-2012.
The group's next move is to launch a "Webstore".
"One of the most popular and recognised local brands of the region, Lulu today is a market leader in almost all the countries that they operate," he said.