Alif Investments, a diversified business conglomerate of UAE, plans to launch an initial public offering (IPO) and list the company to expand its business in GCC and international markets, its top official said.
The group, which is known for Shariah-compliant strategic investments, has not yet finalised the time-frame to launch the IPO, but will list the company either in the UAE or Saudi Arabia or United Kingdom.
“We have decided in principle to launch an IPO and list the company. The group is considering various options and will take a decision in due course of time,” Asif Jabbar, director and group chief executive of Alif Investments, told Khaleej Times during an interview at his office in Dubai.
Alif Investments, which was established in 2010, represents leading brands in many core sectors such as Junaid Jamshed, Emly Chilli, B&B Cricket bar, Snack Bite Pakistan, Meat One, Khan Sab and 3G Real Estate. The group’s strategy is to cater to the needs of consumers from all socio-economic classes with its diverse portfolio of products and services over a period of time.
“We are looking for serious investors to finance our fast growing retail business in fashion and food segments. We are in discussion with some leading international groups and investors for partnerships and joint venture projects in GCC and international markets,” Jabbar said.
He said the group is considering various options for an appropriate market to launch the IPO as early as by next year.
“We may opt for UAE or Saudi market in GCC to list the company and expand our business in international markets.”
“Investors from 10 countries including United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, India and Pakistan are asking for franchise or joint venture projects, but the group has a very cautious approach on expansion and will carefully consider all options to sustain its steady business growth.”
“Investors from South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are keen to replicate the successful business model of Alif Investments, but we are not yet ready to make foray into the international markets,” he said adding that the group will first offer its franchise for Junaid Jamshed and Emly & Chilli in Saudi Arabia.
“The final decision is expected by the next edition of Gulfood as we are in discussion with investors and distributors in the kingdom.”
“As a leading investment group, we have introduced food, fashion and lifestyle brands to the Middle East while staying true to our corporate vision of making Shariah-compliant business model as exemplary as it was always meant to be,” he said.
Dubai A Growth Model
Jabbar attributed the group’s business success to cosmopolitan expatriate community and excellent infrastructure in Dubai and said the emirate will remain a growth model for the international brands. However, he expressed his reservation over rising costs for medical treatments and higher rents in the emirate.
“There is no second Dubai in the world because of its unmatched qualities required for a successful business model. The emirate is a ‘business hub’ and remains a focal point for investors despite tough economic conditions across the globe. I don’t see emerging another city that can compete or substitute the emirate in decades ahead.”
“The tourism, retail and entertainment industry will continue to attract investments in Dubai and keep the business momentum high in years to come, but the authorities concerned should have a close eye on rising medical costs and rents in the emirate.”
He said as middle class is considered to be a backbone of the economy, the government should strengthen this segment by giving some relief in medical treatment and housing sector.
“Rents should not be taken more than 25 per cent of workers’ salary while medicines and treatment should also remain in affordable limits especially for those belong to middle and lower segment of society.” He said the real estate market is reviving again as the supply and demand gap for housing accommodations is widening. “The government should start construction projects that will help develop real estate sector as well as keep a check on demand and supply.”
New Foray, Taste
Jabbar said the group will make foray into the footwear segment this year. “We are going to launch a famous Western footwear brand in the UAE market,” he said without elaborating.
About the new taste in food segment, he said the group is going to introduce a seafood brand in the UAE. Besides this, Arab roll and Tezi Mandi are developed to tap local population while another roll is expected to launch soon to attract Western nationalities.
“We are the trend setters in the market as many brands were introduced in fashion and food segments after the launching of Emly Chilli and Junaid Jamshed. Alif Investments has played a key role in turning Oud Mehta Road into a food street,” he added. “We are also going to introduce Khan Sab in the UAE market very soon,” he said.
“The group has so many products in the pipeline to introduce in the UAE market. The activities in food segment will gain momentum once we complete our central kitchen in Dubai Investment Park before holy month of Ramadan,” Jabbar said.
In reply to a question, he said Junaid Jamshed outlets are performing well since the launch of its first outlet in Dubai last year.
“At present, we have three J dot boutiques in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah and have plans to open two more outlets this year.”
He said the group is also keen to expand Emly Chilli outlets across the UAE. “We have been searching suitable locations for Emly Chilli outlets.”
Jabbar said the expansion for specialised chain of meat stores Meat One is on hold due to high demand of Pakistani meat in the market. “We are re-engineering the brand in order to cater to the 183 nationalities living in the UAE. Meat One is originally designed for Pakistani market, but in its present format it is unable to cater the demands of customers belong to various communities.
“We will re-launch the brand after necessary modification and will introduce US, Indian and Australian meat under the same brand in near future,” he said.
To a question, he made it clear that Alif Investments Shariah board will ensure Zabiha meat availability in the UAE market.
“Our team recently visited India to check slaughter houses for Zabiha meat and the same process will apply on meat imports from US and Australia.”