190831 back to school
A family buying school items at LuLu Hypermarket in Al Ghusais. Image Credit: Atiq Ur Rehman/Gulf News

Dubai: The LuLu Group will not waste any time worrying about a cancelled project in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Instead, the UAE based Group is now committing to two mega projects elsewhere in India, one of which will be in Kashmir.

“We recently started sourcing the famed Kashmir apples and we will expand on that by developing a distribution hub in the state,” said V. Nandakumar, Chief Marketing Officer. “We plan to build a similar processing and distribution facility in Gujarat, the location for which is yet to be decided.

“But given Gujarat’s infrastructure and port facilities, finding a suitable location is not going to be difficult. We are committed to invest in any Indian state where business is made to feel welcome and governments play a supporting role in making things happen.”

The size of the proposed investments in Kashmir, which the Indian Government is hoping to make an attractive destination for businesses, and Gujarat are not known.

Andhra fiasco

Such a welcome and governmental support was definitely not visible on the ground in Andhra, where the current state government - under Jagan Mohan Reddy - cancelled the land allotted to LuLu for a major convention centre that would have cost Dh400 million to develop. That land had earlier been granted by the previous government headed by Chandrababu Naidu.

In recent months, the Reddy government had been overturning most of the decisions taken by his predecessor. Reasons for these moves have not been provided.

The decision to cancel drew a stinging response from the LuLu Group, which said it would not commit to any new projects in Andhra from now on. The Group has in recent years been one of the biggest inward investors into the country, through retail and hospitality projects in Kerala (valued at Dh2 billion plus) as well as in Uttar Pradesh (about Dh500 million).

The LuLu spokesperson declined to say whether the commitments in Kashmir and Gujarat were a tit-for-tat response to the Andhra move.

“We make investments made on sound decisions — if someone decides not to do business with us, we can always take those opportunities elsewhere,” he added. “India is not a closed market.”