Trading is in our blood. I come from the ancient city of Calicut, now called Kozhikode, in the Malabar region of southern India. From medieval times it's been one of the most important trade harbours on the western sea coast of India, trading in spices. That may be why trading is in our blood.
The gold jewellery business is only a second-generation phenomenon. My grandfather was a spice farmer and so was my father, Ahmad MP. But it was his dream to become the largest gold retailer in the country. He sold part of our property and set up a jewellery showroom in Calicut in 1994. It had a staff of eight. Today the total staff strength of all our stores is over 5,800. It is his vision that has helped make our gold business such a huge success. Today we have a total of 64 showroom including the 26 in GCC countries The annual turnover is around Dh4.3 billion.
Gold evokes emotions. A business in gold jewellery is related to traditions, emotions and culture. People buy gold jewellery for weddings and anniversaries. I feel happy to be a part of their happy world. Besides, who wouldn't want to trade in gold? The industry is worth about Dh3.67 trillion. A majority of people prefer to buy gold as a part of safe investment and consider it an asset.
I could have been a computer professional. When I was in college, opportunities in the IT field were high. I was tech savvy so I decided to graduate in computer science from Calicut University. The course helped me become more structured in my thinking but IT was not something I wanted spend my entire life in. I was keen to enter the family business.
My father is an excellent mentor and thanks to him I learnt fast. While he handles the business in India, I decided to set out for the UAE in 2008 to expand our business. I came at a time when globally the markets were in turmoil. I knew there were risks involved but I took a leap of faith.
Food fascinates me. Apart from business, one thing I am passionate about is food. I love to explore the variety of cuisines at different restaurants. So I am considering diversifying and opening a chain of restaurants with fabulous cuisines.
I attribute my success to good teamwork. My success at the age of 33 wouldn't have been possible without a core team of advisers and workers. We began as wholesale distributors of traditional South Indian jewellery. After closely studying the operations here, my team and I learnt that customers were not loyal to any particular brand or store. We decided to build brand loyalty among our customers by offering excellent customer service, the best buy-back rate and transparent pricing policy. I think all this won us a large following in the UAE.
I always consult the women of our household. Although we have a buying team I always ask my mother and wife for their verdict when making a major decision regarding jewellery pieces. Women have a natural instinct about what works and what wouldn't.
Trust is the most priceless jewel in our trade. Building a clean reputation in this trade is important. My father taught me the four essentials one needs in building a reputation in this business. He told me: be honest, always honour commitments, be consistent and never flinch from hard work.
I try to follow my father's simple lifestyle. Our fortunes changed but even today my father lives a simple life where his relationship with people matters a lot to him. I try to emulate the same values. I'm a family man at heart and I love to spend my free time with my wife Ashni and daughters. I like going camping in desert, love speedboat riding and deep-sea fishing.
Your personal style in jewellery?
Platinum rings and bracelets.
The best adornment for a woman?
Solitaire and her character.
Diamond or gold jewellery?
Gold, because it represents culture, and tradition has evolved over the years in its designs. It is a valuable asset.
The biggest lesson learnt?
Success is not just a result of hard work and smartness. You need to have good luck and God's grace as well.
Be the best in what you do.