The Five-by-Five rule: Interview with Kabir Mulchandani
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The Five-by-Five rule: Interview with Kabir Mulchandani

The Five-by-Five rule: Interview with Kabir Mulchandani

Kabir Mulchandani, founder and chairman of Five Group speaks to Gulf Business on his hospitality chain’s trend setting journey to international expansion

Zubina Ahmed
Kabir Mulchandani

Could you take us through your journey in becoming a successful entrepreneur so far? 
To briefly recap a challenging but rewarding journey – between 2004-2008, I traded $8bn in real estate but by June 2008, I turned my focus to develop a long-term, sustainable entity. I first looked at land for Five Palm Jumeirah in 2012 on a Thursday evening – and closed the deal by Sunday morning! Three years later it came to life and became a celebrity spot followed by Five Jumeirah Village in 2019.  As a pace setter in hospitality, we put its entertainment offerings at the forefront – live performances by chart toppers, layered with award-winning culinary offerings and luxurious accommodation. As an entrepreneur I am also acutely aware of my social responsibility, and we have partnered with various organisations such as The Diya Foundation, Sri Gangaram Hospital and New Face Charitable Trust that are deeply involved in life-saving activities.

The Dubai hospitality market is seeing a growing trend for the future. Elaborate on the evolutions and market size of the region’s industry?
The impeccable leadership by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE  and Ruler of Dubai, who is constantly working with our partners to enhance the growth of the tourism and travel sectors at local, regional and international levels, has earned Dubai the enviable position of connecting the East and the West and thus afforded the hospitality industry with multiple growth opportunities.

The city remains a highly-coveted hub for business, tourism and investment. Currently, there is a strong desire to travel – and to indulge in ‘revenge tourism. As a result, people are enthusiastic about staycations, vacations and workcations. This has fueled tourism in the UAE. Moreover, the Department of Tourism and Commerce has introduced the ‘See you in Dubai’ campaign as a strategy to attract 21-3 million visitors by 2023 and 25 million visitors by 2025. Dubai remains in the lead of global tourism recovery – the Emirate was ranked no. one globally in hotel occupancy with 82 per cent during Q1 of 2022 and the demand is set to increase with the arrival of the FIFA World Cup Qatar in 2022.

What has been your approach to scaling your business to date and what according to you, will be the new parameters on the basis of which business success and efficiency will be governed?
The Five experience is centered around breath-taking locations, opulent rooms, gourmet dining experiences and all day (and night) entertainment. The culture is one of synergy, creativity and long term strategic forward thinking.  I believe in promises made and promises kept – to all of our stakeholders. Namely guests (we ranked 9/10 for both properties in Dubai on Booking.com), real estate investors (investors in the Five puts scheme enjoyed a 12.2 per cent return on their investments in 2021), employees (ranked four as Best Workplace for Women in GCC by GPTW), supply chain partners (excellent relationships with over 2000 suppliers), financial institutions (timely repayment of interest even during Covid-19) and shareholders (return of 77X in 10 years). 

Can you share insights into your performance, growth and milestones of FIVE over the last few years and walk us through your future plans?
We showcased a strong growth in EBITDA from 36 per cent in 2020 to 46 per cent in 2021. The reason behind our social media success is its’ Digital Marketing Strategy, which has won a Google Digital Maturity score of 3.7/4 that is more than double the hospitality and travel industry average of 1.7. Direct bookings from the website grew from 25 per cent in 2019 to 60 per cent in 2021. Five Palm Jumeirah is ranked first with 246 per cent higher TREVPAR and 31 per cent higher occupancy, while Five Jumeirah Village is ranked first with 286 per cent higher TREVPAR and 42 per cent higher occupancy in 2021. Since inception, it has served over 3.79 million guests of 192 nationalities across F&B venues such as The Penthouse, Maiden Shanghai, Cinque and Soul St. Moreover, it has featured over 4,000 events featuring over 360 international DJs.

You have recently announced accepting crypto payments in FIVE Zurich. The acceptance of cryptocurrency as a payment method is gradually becoming more and more mainstream. Tell us more about it?
On the eve of expanding internationally, Five Zurich opened on June 30 and in keeping with Five’s digital savvy philosophy, we will accept crypto payments, namely Bitcoin and Ethereum.  With 87 luxurious suites and rooms and 7 culinary and nightlife venues a one-of-a-kind outdoor social pool, it is Europe’s’ most anticipated luxury lifestyle opening and will be matchless amalgamation of Dubai’s glamour with traditionally flawless Swiss hospitality. Switzerland is a preferred crypto-blockchain destination, and hence this new hotel is perfectly positioned in Europe.

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