Bengal chief secretary H.K. Dwivedi on Tuesday said a delegation of LuLu Group International would soon visit the state to explore investment opportunities as a follow-up to chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s meeting with Ashraf Ali, executive director of the group, in Dubai last week.
“We have proposed the LuLu Group International to set up two malls — one in Calcutta and one in the Durgapur-Asansol area. Besides, they have shown interest in setting up food parks, meat and fish processing units for their 234 retail stores spread across the UAE, India, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Egypt, Malaysia and Indonesia,” said the chief secretary at Nabanna on Tuesday.
Before the news conference, the chief secretary held meetings with departments like industries, food processing, animal resources development, horticulture and food processing and agriculture to ensure that they kept themselves ready to offer all data and information to the delegation that would visit the state soon.
The dates for the visit, however, were not disclosed.
The UAE-based retailer group — run by Kerala-born billionaire Yousuf Ali — is looking at India with keen interest in the last few years. On Tuesday, the group stepped into the sixth Indian city by opening a mall in Hyderabad after Bengaluru, Coimbatore, Kochi, Lucknow, and Thiruvananthapuram. Last year, the deal between the Lulu Group and the Telangana government was signed in Davos during the meeting of the World Economic Forum.
With its more than 255 hypermarkets and 24 shopping malls across 22 nations, the $8 billion group — employing over 65,000 people in 42 different countries — is planning investments in several other India cities like Ahmedabad, Varanasi, Bangalore, Chennai and Noida.
Sources in Nabanna said that the state government had realised that the group was keen on expanding its operations in India and that was why leaving no stone unturned to woo the team when it lands in Calcutta.
“There is a possibility that the group may show interest in areas like horticulture, agriculture, and agriculture related sectors to source products for their retail chain. If this happens, the farmers would be greatly benefited. The state does not want to miss any such opportunity if it comes,” said a senior official.
Sources also said that during the meeting, it was also discussed that the company may be given details of government-owned land from the state’s land bank if they wish to set up food parks, meat processing units or fish processing units.
Apart from the LuLu Group International, the state government is hopeful of securing investment from the Tempe Group, the manufacturing and international procurement arm of Inditex Group, whose brands include Zara, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Oysho.
“The company has expressed interest in sourcing leather and non-leather products and getting their brand manufactured in Bengal. They want to collaborate with
some Indian companies to get their apparel and leather products manufactured in the state. The Bengal government would work to make that
happen,” said Vandana Yadav, the industries secretary, who was also present in the meeting.
The follow-up meeting of the chief minister’s visit to Spain and Dubai has drawn the attention of the political and administrative circles as officials said that this was the first of its kind after the chief minister’s visit to foreign countries to invite investments.
Sources said that the chief minister had visited Singapore, Germany and Italy previously to draw investment. But no such follow-up meeting was held soon after the chief minister’s visit.
“This time, the meeting assumes significance as it gives a clear hint that the state government is putting up a concerted effort to materialise the investment proposals discussed during the chief minister’s visit,” said an official.
The meeting is also significant given the questions raised by the Opposition parties, particularly the BJP, on the outcome of the chief minister’s visit with the taxpayers’ money.
“The meeting followed up by the news conference of the chief secretary sends a message that the government is serious about converting the investment proposals received during the visit into reality. Moreover, it also sends a message that the chief minister’s visit was fruitful,” explained a bureaucrat.
A section of the officials pointed out that the state government was serious about converting the investment proposals into reality as it would generate employment opportunities in the state.