Indian group to invest Dh500m in UAE's different sectors - Emirates24|7

Indian group to invest Dh500m in UAE's different sectors

Gokulam Group of Companies, based in Chennai in South India, plans to invest Dh500 million in the UAE to set up a chain of hypermarkets, schools and hotels in collaboration with UAE-based Al Madeena Group.

The Gokulam plans to open hypermarkets in all the seven emirates of the UAE and other GCC countries. Its first hypermarket was opened in Al Quoz, Dubai, by Kerala Chief Minister Ommen Chandy in March 2015.

The Gokulam Group operated in various fields like finance, education, media and retailing in South India.

“About two decades ago, I tried to start a business in the UAE. However, due to our preoccupation with the Indian market, we could not pursue it further but now we are trying to come back to the UAE in a big way. Work on our second 125,000 sq. feet hypermarket in Abu Dhabi has already begun and we will start new ventures in all the seven emirates of the UAE,” said AM Gopalan, chairman and managing director of the group.

“We chose to align with Al Madeena Group in Dubai which has a chain of supermarkets in the UAE and knows the market well. We will be launching a new joint brand for the UAE market,” added Gopalan, whose group now employs nearly 10,000 people and has a turnover of about Rs50 billion.

Gopalan, a rags-to-riches businessman, is also a film financier and social worker as part of SNDP, a socio-cultural group representing Kerala’s Ezhava community.

“In our schools we provide free or concessional education to many poor students and we hope to do the same in the UAE too,” said Gopalan.

The group includes Gokulam Chits and Finance, Gokulam Medical College, other educational institutions and hotels. Gokulam Chits and Finance, based in Chennai, has entered new areas of businesses like gold loans and acquisition of weak non-banking finance companies.

In the UAE, the Gokulam group plans to acquire hotels and open schools and higher educational institutions.

“The Gokulam group currently runs a dozen educational institutions ranging from public schools to medical and nursing colleges in India. We plan to open a number of schools in the UAE, starting with an English curriculum school in Dubai,” Gopalan added.

“Initially we plan to have two schools in the UAE. We understand that there is demand for new affordable schools, especially in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. We are exploring the possibilities in education here and other Gulf countries,” said Dr Vidhya Vinod, CEO and President, Study World Education Holding, which is associated with the Gokulam group’s educational investment plans in the Gulf.

In India and Qatar, the group has 10 hotels and it plans to open a new hotel or acquire an existing hotel in the UAE.