Kunal Lahori is the executive director of the Palmon Group, a family business covering a range of sectors that he has been involved in for more than 14 years. He is also the founder of food and beverage ventures El Sur and Prêt To Go. Mr Lahori, 31, from India, has lived in the UAE for 30 years.
Describe your financial journey so far.
It starts with joining the family business. Fortunately for me, I’ve had the opportunity to follow my passion alongside my directorial role in the group, and that’s how El Sur and Prêt To Go were born. There has always been a gap in the market for concepts born in this region, which has helped the financial growth. The F&B movement in this region has finally started going “local” and you see entrepreneurs or “foodpreneurs” from all walks of life entering the business. I’ve diversified into F&B ventures starting with a contemporary Spanish restaurant El Sur at the Westin, and with the launch of Prêt To Go. Overall the financial journey under the F&B ventures has been fruitful.
Are you a spender or saver?
I am a spender, but a sensible one. I am somebody who likes to take financial risks in business. Typically people look for organic growth from their ventures before they proceed to the next one; however, I believe in the brands I build and this is why I signed up five locations for Prêt To Go before opening the first one. I do not like to do things half-heartedly. Essentially I invest because I believe in the project and the market; I won’t hold back in terms of spending on design and finishing nor cut corners on food quality or taste. I trust my business judgment as I have the experience and knowledge behind me to make those confident decisions, so it is sensible not impulsive.
What is your philosophy towards money?
Money needs to be enjoyed, but most importantly money should never define who you are.
Have you made any financial mistakes along the way?
Mistakes are a part of life and it’s fine to make them as long as you learn from them.
What has been your best investment?
I personally believe very strongly in home-grown concepts, and I am investing in many enterprising individuals with unique ideas. Giving local talent a chance in each one of my projects is my modus operandi, be it a local graffiti artist or a cold pressed organic juice partner. I’ve also made a lot of diverse investments from real estate to antiques and cars. My best investment to date has been industrial real estate and also the bond market, although the only one that rewards me personally is my businesses. It is what I live and breathe every day.
If you won Dh1 million, what would you do with it?
Invest it in the business.
Do you plan for the future?
I believe you need to be organised and set goals. My future plan in F&B is to launch my new concept called Meat District, which will happen before the end of the year. In business I try to see the overall plan, spending sensibly and knowing where to put my money. In my personal life I tend to be a little more spontaneous, living for the moment. It’s a nice balance between the two; you’ve got to keep a bit of spontaneity in life.
What do you enjoy spending money on?
On memorable experiences because in the end – that’s what we have – our memories. I am part of select groups that travel for their passion such as my foodie bunch where we go and experience great food whether it is Michelin star restaurants or street food; and a road trip group where we travel in supercars and drive between 2,000 to 4,000 miles across various countries. On the way we stay at private reserves, castles, vineyards, visit car manufacturing facilities, have track days and many interesting adventures.
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