Region to emerge stronger than before, says LuLu chief

Unitll the first week of May, all shops inside malls, apart from hypermarkets, groceries and pharmacies, were shut.

  
Image used for illustrative purpose. A Lulu mall store front.

Image used for illustrative purpose. A Lulu mall store front.

Handout via Lulu Group
Gulf countries with strong sovereign wealth fund can weather the present crisis and emerge stronger than before post Covid-era, UAE-based businessman said.

"This situation in Gulf region is temporary. Even though not a pandemic, we have seen similar situations before like the Gulf War, financial crisis and oil price crash. Gulf region can withstand such situations. Gulf nations have reserves and assets to prevail this crisis. Over the years, the revenue made from crude has been invested astutely. And they have strong sovereign wealth fund. When Abu Dhabi sold $7 billion in bonds, order book hit $45 billion. This is evidence of Gulf countries capacity," Lulu Group chairman Yusuffali M.A. said during a virtual media briefing.

"No doubt this is a crisis situation but we all live in hope for a better future. This phase too will pass. Gulf will emerge stronger than before. Opportunity and business will return."

Business hit but shelves stocked
Yusuffali revealed that LuLu Group, which operates shopping malls and stores across the GCC, has suffered a slump in business. "Wherever we have business, all those places, face lockdown in the region."

Unitll the first week of May, all shops inside malls, apart from hypermarkets, groceries and pharmacies, were shut. Even as shopping malls reopened in the UAE, there are host of restrictions imposed on capacity of visitors and operating hours.

"Due to restrictions, we couldn't do business in full swing. So, our business may be hit by 50 per cent in these places," he said and added all staff were paid salaries.Yusuffali stressed people needn't panic as Lulu stores had enough food stock for a year.

"Availability of food is a priority. Three months back, we started stocking and have supplies for next nine months and soon backup will be there for 12 months. So there is no need for panic buying."

Focus on e-commerce, dark stores
Yusuffali underlined if Covid-19 situation continues then the Group may think seriously about e-commerce. "We didn't anticipate such a situation and failed to cope up with need for e-commerce and dark store. This is a learning curve. If Covid-19 continues then we will focus on e-commerce, dark store and such concepts. We are working a way out."

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