Mr. Adeeb Ahamed: LuLu International Exchange
Five years ago in 2008, Mr. Adeeb Ahamed was invited to Abu Dhabi to set up and head the operations of LuLu International Exchange. And as everyone says the rest is history with what happened as within the span of just five years, the CEO of LuLu International Exchange, Mr. Adeeb Ahamed has expanded the company from a one branch operation to a 90 plus branch organization. LuLu International Exchange now caters to its customers world over with its branches located in India, UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Philippines. Though the focus is not on the growth of the branch network, but on how to help their customers with each existing branch. LuLu International Exchange truly values the customers trust as their slogan “Valuing Your Trust” stands to reflect the focus of the company. Unique Times talks to Mr. Adeeb Ahamed, a humble man who grew up in Cochin, and began his professional career in the service and hospitality sector. Though previously his career path took him from being a sales and marketing executive at Grosvenor House, AJW Marriott in London to being the Director of Sales of the London based Baglioni Hotel, Mr. Adeeb Ahamed today leads one of the one of the top five exchange houses in the Middle East.
1) How do you think the Indian Economy can get ahead? What do you think are some good strategies to get on top?
Indian Economy, Asia’s third largest economy, has started to rebound with the new government giving a strong impetus towards investment, manufacturing and construction. In fact, the economy has grown at its fastest in two years averaging an aggressive 5.3 percent in 2014 against a 4.6 percent in the past two years. The Rupee which was in a free fall since May 2013, now looks pretty stable and the resurging Indian stock market sentiments has presented itself as the new silver lining for the Indian Economy.
Central Government’s annual budget for 2014 certainly looks promising as it assured to look into the growth sectors. This could be the answer towards reviving the Indian Economy. The need of the hour is to involve the private entities in the infrastructure developmental activities of the nation or a Public-Private Partnership (PPP). This in turn, will improve the socio-economic conditions of the citizens drastically. The thrust should be on development and enhancing the facilities to the ordinary public rather than reaping benefits by way of making profits. The PMO’s stress on opening bank accounts for all households in the country appears to be a genuine move towards inculcating the habit of saving.
The government should come up with investor friendly reforms so as to gain the confidence of the foreign institutional and corporate investors apart from domestic investors. The government’s policy of enhancing the FDI participation in sectors such as defense, infrastructure and insurance has resulted in boosting the confidence of FIIs. The recent investment of foreign investors to the tune of $24.53 Million in the stock market and $105 Million in the government bond market during the last week of August 2014 stands testimony to the fact.
2) What is the vision of the company? How do you look to be a benefit to your clients and make them satisfied?
Our vision was quite straight and simple when we started LuLu International Exchange. We wanted to emerge as the people’s brand just like our parent company, LuLu Group International, in the financial services industry by providing high standards in customer satisfaction and compliance. Today, five years after we opened our first branch in Abu Dhabi, we have reached closer to our vision.
LuLu International Exchange is now identified in the Top 5 exchange houses of the Middle East. Through sheer dint of hard work and dedication,Lulu Exchange operates with 90 global branches in countries such as India, UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Philippines and Bangladesh. We have been successful in providing the best of services and tirelessly delivering the service excellence to our customers. This approach helped us in earning their complete satisfaction and trust in the bargain.
Bringing convenience to our customers has always been a priority to us and it is this attitude that has made us a favourite thus helping us grow in a fast pace.
3) What is the inspiration behind the concept of LuLu Exchange?
LuLu Group International aka EMKE Group emerged as the most recognized brand in the Middle Eastern retail scene in the past five plus decades of its existence. In fact, the brand pioneering the retail sector in the middle-east with world class amenities. LuLu Group International today is a highly diversified entity with operations spanning across the globe. Spearheaded by the retail division, the Group, with over 30,000 employees had interests in Imports & Exports, Trading, Shipping, IT, Travel & Tourism, F & B and Education. The retail giant had turned itself into a complete end-to-end solutions provider for the customers walking into its premises thereby earning their trust through unrivalled customer satisfaction.
Though LuLu had for long been contemplating to take its pedigree of service excellence to the financial services industry, the required thrust came from its employees and loyal customers who wanted LuLu to dabble in the remittance industry to provide fast, safe and reliable service to its customers. Literally, the loyal patrons and the large expatriate population residing in the Middle East became our inspiration to start LuLu Exchange.
4) What does the company do to maintain a perfect balance within the market where so much competition exists?
Everyone has the right to compete for the bigger and better share of the remittance pie. The market itself is big enough for any player to dabble in the business. As I had mentioned earlier, LuLu International Exchange is an emerging Remittance and foreign exchange company with just five years of history when compared to the competitors who have been in the market for decades.
The years of experience that we have built over the years has made us one of the strong contenders in the business. We are proud to have introduced strict yet sophisticated compliance and AML norms in the industry and have delivered unparalleled customer satisfaction. We have tied up with the best financial institutions backed with technological proficiency with an aim to provide fast, safe and reliable service to our customers. We are here in the market to leave a mark with customers with our unparalleled service.
LuLu has a loyal customer following in the retail sector. It is the same customer base we are trying to tap and we have been successful in doing so with LuLu International Exchange as well. We value customer satisfaction and we our growth through the years stands testimony to the fact.
5) LuLu Exchange attends to consumers worldwide, so what are your techniques in reaching the global consumers?
LuLu Exchange caters to a multitude of customers belonging to different nationalities across the globe. However, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Jordan, Philippines and Indonesia remain our main corridors for business at present. We also offer money transfer services across the globe through money products such as western Union, Trans-Fast, Xpress Money, and Prabhu Money.
Our exchange house is well known for its customer centric approach and value-laden service. We offer the most competitive exchange rates clubbed with personalized customer service for all our services, be it remittance or foreign exchange. Apart from having remittance arrangements with over 70 leading banks and money transfer companies globally, we have rolled out an array of value added services such as instant credit service, health insurance payments, utility payments, social security services, Multi-currency cards, mobile top-ups etc. all for the benefit of our global customers.
It is the company’s ongoing commitment to enhance the customer experience by identifying customer requirements. The company’s corporate slogan, “Valuing Your Trust” is the reflection of the company itself.
6) What are some of your upcoming projects? How do you make sure that you give your consumers exactly what they need? What other countries do you plan to expand business into?
Currently, LuLu International Exchange Group has full-fledged operations in the entire GCC region barring Saudi Arabia. In total, we operate in seven countries (UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, India and Philippines) through 90 global branches as of August 2014. The company also has liaison offices in Bangladesh and India.
In 2014-15, we will be consolidating our existing operations by expanding our branch network for our customers’ convenience. About 25 branches will be added to the present global count of 90 branches in the current year. We have contemplating of setting up our operations in Africa, Seychelles, Maldives, by the end of 2015. We are examining the prospect of making inroads into lucrative regions in Asia Pacific regions such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam and Australia/New Zealand by 2016.
We have an in-house marketing and research team who conducts regular market research/survey to gauge the customer requirements. Based on this feedback and similar reports collected from the walk-in customers, the banking department takes it forward and execute it.
7) Please tell us a bit about your family and how you balance your family life with your business life?
My wife Shafeena Yusuffali has her own side of business, and she takes care of that and we have four children, 3 sons, and a daughter. Business becomes a part of our life, I’ve seen it all throughout my childhood as my dad used to run one of the most famous restaurant chain called Bimbis. So seeing my dad do business and working in his company throughout my school years, I’ve watched my dad balance the business and family life so it’s an inspiration. Because it shows that just because you are in business doesn’t mean that your family life will be out of balance. Even watching my uncle and my grandfather managing and balancing their life, I feel that being in business doesn’t means sacrificing your family life and only will be able to concentrate on business. My wife and I will take time off, and be with our children, so it’s very normal.
8) In business you have to work with passion, what is your opinion?
Absolutely, everyday you have to wake up and feel that you want to come and do something at your work that day. Other than that if you feel forced to wake up and come, it’s no longer fine. For me more than passion, it is life itself.
As LuLu International Exchange aims high to help customers globally, with the guidance of Mr. Adeeb Ahamed, only the best results will stand to be the outcome of all the goals set out for the future.