Lalit Kumar Jain, Chairman & Managing Director, Kumar Urban Development Ltd
The journey of Kumar Urban Development Ltd began when the company was incorporated in 1993 by Chairman and Managing Director Lalit Kumar Jain. An offshoot of the erstwhile Kumar Group, promoted by Jain's father KH Oswal in 1966, the company focuses on residential and commercial development in Pune, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Panchgani and Nagpur.
Jain, who holds a bachelor's degree in civil engineering, has been involved in the real-estate business since the age of 17 and has various accolades to his credit. In a tête-à-tête with Jayanthi Narayan, while revealing hi...s growth strategies, the suave gentleman made it evident that he is smitten by his profession and thoroughly enjoys his work. Excerpts.…
Tell us about your working life. How do you gear yourself up for the day?I rise at quarter to five. My morning schedule includes Vipasana meditation and exercise.
I travel thrice a week, mainly to Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi. Even if I am travelling, I keep my schedules intact. Before the day ends at 11 pm, I definitely carve out some time for the family.
With the realty market booming, when do you see the new highs? Well now it has kind of come out of the recession phase and is in the stabilising phase. We expect clean growth in the coming five to seven years. So there will be new highs in real estate by 2015-16.
How do you plan to keep pace with this renewed thrust? We were affected owing to the economic downturn and many projects were postponed. Now they are all getting streamlined. We plan to execute 3-5 million sq ft at various places. We have some large projects lined up for Mumbai and Pune.
What is your land bank?We have above 1,700 acre of land bank that comprises about 70 million sq ft. Out of this, 9 million is city-centric, 7 million is suburban and the remaining is in townships and there are two more corridors.
Are you trying to acquire more land? Our business development activity is in Mumbai now. In Pune we don't have to acquire land now because we have substantial land there. So for the next few years we are not looking at acquiring land. Our high-rises are coming up in Tardeo, Worli and Lokhandwala.
Tell us something about the high-rise planned in Tardeo, Mumbai.It is a 68-storey project with about 200 flats of 3,800 sq ft each, catering to the luxury market. Each house has a swimming pool coupled with all plush amenities. We are now in the process of obtaining IRD. There is another 60-storey building coming up in Worli and then there are other high-rises in Lokhandwala, Andheri, Ghatkopar and Goregaon.
Considering you are not based in Mumbai, how difficult will it be for you to understand the local culture?I had undertaken a few developments here, when we were doing projects in Pune. In the past four years we decided to focus here and we have already acquired more than 50 projects in Mumbai. Most of them are high-rises.
What about affordable housing projects? We are doing some affordable housing projects in Pune; not in Mumbai.
How many projects did you complete in the last financial year? Projects are on in phases; so there are 18 projects under construction and we delivered around 3 million sq ft last year. For FY 2009-10, we posted a topline of Rs 251 crore.
How do you keep abreast of the latest technology? Any particular technology that interests you?We have a technology officer and an entire department that works on new technologies.
We are experimenting with two technologies for speedy and lightweight construction. Once we finalise our plan, we will reveal the details. It's been a long time since we have adopted post-tensioning technologies. We have delivered 1 million sq ft with post-tensioning.
Share a few details about your dream project. One project I am very keen and enthusiastic about is the 45 Nirvana Hill project in Pune, which is sprawled over 6 million sq ft. It is in the heart of the city and is a blend of retail, commercial and residential and will have a very unique tower. We have planned a large botanical garden for the city and are also integrating mono rail and metro rail throughout the project.
Are you planning any JV or foreign tie-up in the near future? Besides the equity investment that comes, no technology tie-ups.
Throw some light on your association with Confederation of Real-Estate Developers' Association of India (CREDAI) as its vice-president. I have been involved with CREDAI since I was 18. The association's constitution was changed to adopt me as the management committee member. It is in my blood and I have been involved in all its important events. I was also the first convener of its national convention.
How important is real-estate branding in your view? A brand is created through delivery. So creating a brand is one thing and actually developing a brand through delivery is the 'real' thing in real estate. So accordingly, goodwill is created through your deliveries which is the most important thing. Now-adays it is getting reflected in the business. A good brand will always have a comfort level in the market and also with the government and other stakeholders. So branding is very important.
What is your take on the oft-repeated statement that the builder community is not ethical?I wouldn't agree to that. You can't just do without ethics. There are those who represent a certain class of developers where ethics are compromised; we call them short-sighted. I don't think they represent the community at large because most developers are qualified, and they want to be in the business for a long term and this business is one of goodwill. So if somebody is working without ethics he can't survive in the business. We build trust, so we preach and practice trust. Trust will always come with truth and truth will always come with ethics. So I think it is synonymous.
We have a uniform building code. Don't you think we should have an ethics code too? According to me, the code of conduct of CREDAI is very good and offers guidelines. No long-term developer can go on without ethics. Ethical practices are the key to success. There are few elements who are always in news and the entire community gets blacklisted.
Crisil has launched a rating system... I hope this rating system will adopt a very neutral stance, considering past rating have been very financially oriented. According to me, to judge a developer you need a very good rating system and the ability to judge their past performances along with a team who can deliver. I have not studied the Crisil rating but I hope they incorporate it.
What about a uniform rating system? A uniform rating system is desirable. If we [CREDAI] are invited for a discussion, we will definitely participate in creating a uniform code.
What is your personal success mantra? Three aspects: hard work; knowledge; and sincerity or what you call trustworthiness.
How do you plan to give back to society? We have strongly believed in corporate social responsibility for decades. We work for the overall development of students in rural areas under my father's name as part of the 'Gunwatta Vikas Yojana'. We adopt around 10,000 students and undertake a year-long programme where we train principals, teachers and then students. The results are phenomenal. Also we have an environment program-me where we donate grown-up trees in multiples of 20,000 every year to the corporation and do plantations on our own.
Where do you see yourself in coming years? I believe in overall growth so besides business other aspects of life also need to be balanced. But we are growing on an average 40 per cent CAGR and I think we will maintain that.
Year of establishment: 1993Top management: Lalit Kumar Jain, Chairman and Managing Director; Kruti L Jain, Director (Operations); Shailesh Hingarh, Non-Independent Director; and Kishore Biyani, Gaurav Dalmia, PC Bhalerao and Nachiket Joshi, Independent Directors.Centres of operation: Pune, Mumbai, Bengaluru and DelhiNo. of employees: 225Group turnover: Rs251 crore (FY 2009-10)
PUNE:• Residential: Kumar Gliteratti, Windsor Park, Kubera Sankul, Kumar Kruti, Sublime, Kumar Shantiniketan Ph 2, Kumar Puram, KUL Utsav• Commercial: KK Market, Kidopia• Rehabilitation project: 45 Nirvana Hills - Ph 1
MUMBAI:• Residential: The Orion Residency, Buena Vista, KUL Tangerine, KUL Kudos, KUL Elegance, KUL Aura, and KUL Couture• Commercial: KUL Tudor and KUL Palladio
BENGALURU:• Residential: I Life