Sohail Tabba, CEO – LuckyOne Group spoke to team Brands Magazine and FHM Pakistan on the changing perspectives and dynamics of the rapidly growing industrial industry.
BM: Tell us about your educational and professional journey.
ST: I graduated from the University of Karachi, right after graduation I started business at the age of 20. My family business involved trading with Iran and that is how I began travelling, getting exposure to different business approaches worldwide
BM: You belong to a strong business family, what was the reason behind building a Mall?
ST: My family has been in the field of business since many years. While our core business is textiles, our focus while undertaking any business is to attain a leadership position in that particular field. So today, as you can see, we are the largest textile exporters; diversifying the business platform to cement, we became the largest cement producers in Pakistan. We then started off in the healthcare business by establishing Tabba Heart Hospital, which is now the best cardiac hospital in Pakistan. So, the legacy of the family business is not only to run businesses within various sectors but reach leadership positions and make a difference! The idea is not just to make money, but to give the people of my city of Karachi the best in every possible form. Similarly, LuckyOne Mall was also thought to represent itself amongst the top most landmarks in terms of layout, area and idea with respect to the existing competition in the market.
BM: What was the reason behind constructing Asia’s largest mall specifically in this area of Karachi?
ST: We did not make this claim that LuckyOne is Asia’s largest mall. LuckyOne Mall’s idea was finalized after vigorous thinking and planning, and it was finally decided with respect to the mix of culture and income classes that reflected in the ideality of the location, further being near to the airport too. The area also has the largest buying power in Karachi with a large percentage of middle class people that drive the country towards financial and economic growth as the elite eventually rely on international markets and products more. Hence, hitting the area with greatest buying power, with up to 6 to 7 million people within 5 km vicinity, was a well thought decision of the entire management.
BM: What is the mission & vision behind YB Group & the Mall specifically?
ST: Our mission was to grow a branch of the family business in the hospitality industry and give some entertaining avenues for people in Karachi. This is also my city I was born here, brought up and educated here, so I have the thought that Karachi has a great appetite for good quality malls. I believe Karachi can sustain up to 20 more such malls easily. Furthermore, as investors we can bring our vision out and about for the people to gain exposure from. In that objective, we aim not to micro manage things but bring with the best available skills and fill in them the vision of the particular project and let them run the show.
BM: How do you tend to maintain the market grip of LuckyOne Mall with regards to the high and strong competitive malls?
ST: Competition is something one should always welcome; it keeps you proactive, and you’re always set to meet challenges. If we sit complacent without any challenges to confront then the standards would surely go down. When talking about Dolmen, it is a very respectable name; however, I believe more malls should be built so that there is more competition in the market. This will benefit the city along with Pakistan at large, contributing to thriving businesses & creating employment opportunities. Hence, if you’re scared of competition then you should never do anything in life as it’s the reason behind growing standards and rise in economy – driving technology and employment upwards.
BM: Opening multinational and reputed domestic brands, what expectations do you have with regards to meeting your market budget?
ST: That’s something the brands would answer better with the response and expectations they have. You will be amazed that Khaadi has actually opened its largest outlet in LuckyOne Mall, including Sapphire, Habitt and even Sana Safinaz, who also have their flagship stores at LuckyOne. So, I believe LuckyOne Mall has already bagged some feathers in its cap for holding the largest store for both national and multinational brands countrywide including a world class, state-of-the-art Indoor Family Entertainment Center – Onederland.
BM: What challenges did you face with the initiative of LuckyOne and how do you tackle them till date?
ST: Entering the field of entertainment had always been my passion and the area where the mall is built is a place I’d been visiting for years as it was first a textile mill owned by the family. As the city grew, it surrounded the mill with housing schemes, which then became a residential area soon. So, we planned to shift the plant out of the area to somewhere more deserted and non-residential and with the area vacant, we later decided to build LuckyOne Mall. Though we were a little off target, being eight to ten months late, we still managed it out with the support of the government and agencies and our valued brand partners.
As far as challenges were concerned, luckily we didn’t have to face any challenge that could not be tackled with ease. However, out of all the aspects, security is a challenge that is undoubtedly faced across the world. But even for this challenge at hand, we have a vast number of resources with high tech gadgets to keep things and customers secure.
BM: What message would you like to give to the readers?
ST: Business dealing is something that never gets old; where the sky is the limit and when you achieve what you are set out for. All you need to do is believe in what you desire and give it your best shot.
BM: Where do you see LuckyOne Mall by 2020?
ST: We still have room for expansion, so once we consolidate everything under one roof, we will go into phase 2 of LuckyOne as this is simply not the end. Furthermore, we’re building seven residential towers that will contain 1100 apartments, changing the skyline of Karachi. And alongside all that, we shall soon be looking for another location to build another mall with the same size and magnitude or maybe even bigger.