UAE-based Lulu Group International will invest Rs 8,000 crore in retail, food processing and export operations in Kerala. The announcement was made by group chairman M A Yusuff Ali at the ‘Kerala Looks Ahead’ virtual summit, earlier today.

The Lulu Group, known for its mammoth mall retail operations in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and select cities in India, has already invested in IT, retail and logistics in the state. It has also built one of the largest shopping malls in the country, Lulu Hypermarket, in Kochi.

“We have already invested a total of Rs 15,000 crore in Kerala, and we have plans of investing another Rs 8,000 crore in the state,” said Ali, while speaking at the summit.

“The Kerala government has given top priority to the development of infrastructure like roads, industrial parks and corridors in the state,” Ali added.

On Monday, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the Union Budget this year had allocated Rs 65,000 crore towards building national highways in Kerala. The budget also allocated funds for the setting up of a fishing harbor in Kochi.

‘Need export promotion council in Kerala’

While making the announcement, the Lulu chairman exhorted the need for an export promotion council in Kerala, to focus on the state’s fledgling export business. “There are a lot of opportunities for export in Kerala; we are doing business worth Rs 400 crore in the export of fruit and vegetables from the state.”

In the last two years, the Kerala government has displayed keenness to promote the state as a commercial hub, and combat the “negative perception” about Kerala as a business destination. “We need to convey the message that this has changed,” said Azad Moopen, chairman of Aster DM Healthcare, who also spoke at the summit.

Speaking at the summit, Biocon chairperson, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw called for more investment in the state’s life sciences sector. “Kerala has a thriving start-up economy led by software technology,” she said. “I can vouch for the business friendliness of this state,” Moopen said, “We have invested Rs 4,000 crore here since 2001, and have employed 6,000 people.”