Real estate is something Abhishek Lodha understands, so joining the company his father, Mangal Prabhat Lodha, started in 1980 was a natural choice.
Lodha, 37, is managing director of Lodha Developers Pvt. Ltd, the country’s largest real estate company in terms of sales volume. His father is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member of the Maharashtra legislative assembly from Malabar Hill in south Mumbai. Lodha’s younger brother, Abhinandan, heads Lodha Ventures, a financial services firm.
Land is the only thing that’s not manufactured, says Lodha. “In the long-term, real estate has always generated tremendous value. For centuries people have owned homes, palaces and lands because they know that the value of good property always appreciates.”
Lodha Developers is targeting a doubling of revenue to Rs20,000 crore in the next three years. The company is on course to achieving this target, says Lodha, though the real estate business overall hit a rough patch after demonetization in November and a changing regulatory landscape (in May, the much-awaited Real Estate [Regulation and Development] Act, came into force. While the Act is aimed at bringing transparency and accountability in the sector, developers are concerned that it could slow down new launches and affect sales in the short term).
The company has outperformed its peers in the last three years, selling homes worth up to Rs8,000 crore annually. At a time when most real estate firms are consolidating and looking for ways to beat the slowdown, the group has expanded its footprint—it is building a luxury residential project, Lincoln Square in London, which is expected to be completed in 2018.
Back home, the group’s portfolio is spread across Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad. Including the project in London, it is developing an estimated 43 million sq. ft of prime real estate. The projects include World One, a 117-floor residential tower in Mumbai billed as the tallest building in the country; and Palava, a 4,500-acre township in Thane district of Mumbai, which the company claims will be India’s first smart city.
The group is also ramping up its commercial real estate business, with plans to build around 9 million sq. ft of office space in Mumbai alone.
Lodha’s days are packed, but he says he doesn’t feel the pressure of expectations.
“I have never felt any sense of pressure. I really enjoy what I do. I have grown up knowing and learning about real estate. Sometimes life is kind, especially when you get into doing what you like and end up liking it as well,” says Lodha, who joined the company in 2003 after returning from the US, where he did his master’s in industrial engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, and worked briefly at consulting firm McKinsey & Co.
Seven years after he joined the family business, he became the managing director in 2010. Under Lodha, the group has invested heavily in technology and human resources, hiring several professionals and management graduates from top business schools in the country. This year, the group announced that it would be investing up to Rs50 crore in technology-based real estate start-ups.
Lodha says it’s a misconception that most real estate businesses in India are run in a traditional and unprofessional manner.
“Real estate to me is like a fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) business. We think and act like an FMCG company. We put a lot of thought around product design, marketing and (there is) also a significant amount of focus on distribution when we do our sales…. This is what really gives us the momentum and ability to keep growing in spite of the industry being seen as one which is not amenable to a corporate way of doing things,” he adds.
Real estate is also his preferred mode of personal investment, which tend to be “plain vanilla and involve no rocket science”.
“I understand real estate well, and therefore real estate is the preferred mode of investment. So I prefer investing in high-quality real estate… Other than that, fixed income, equity, jewellery and gold…all the normal things,” he says.
His indulgences outside of work he says is “nothing interesting and very normal”. He describes himself as a spiritual person and a voracious reader. His current reading list includes Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History Of Humankind and its sequel, Homo Deus: A Brief History Of Tomorrow.
“As a family, we have been taught that wealth is not an entitlement,” Lodha says. “It comes when you do things right and it goes away as easily. Your lifestyle should be appropriate and modest.”
ame: Abhishek Lodha
Designation: Managing director, Lodha Developers Pvt. Ltd
Education: Bachelor’s and master’s degree in industrial engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, US
What is your money mantra? I understand real estate well and therefore real estate is the preferred mode of investment. I prefer investing in high-quality real estate…. Other than that, fixed income, equity, jewellery and gold …all the normal things.
Name: Mangal Prabhat Lodha
Net worth: $3.8 billion
Source of wealth: Real estate
Education: B.Com and LLB from the University of Jodhpur
Brief: Mumbai politician and property magnate Mangal Prabhat Lodha’s privately held Lodha Group, run by sons Abhishek and Abhinandan, is building Mumbai’s first Trump Tower. The 75-storey luxury skyscraper, located in a complex called The Park, is due to be completed by 2018. In 2015, Lodha completed the first 60-storey tower of its landmark World Towers project in midtown Mumbai, billed as the world’s tallest residence. A native of Rajasthan, Lodha started by building middle-class homes in Mumbai’s far-flung suburbs. The firm started expanding after the sons joined the business in 2003, picking up prime land parcels.