Indian footprint expands in UK despite Covid crisis, finds new ‘India Meets Britain Tracker’

Aditi Khanna
·4-min read

London, Apr 22 (PTI) The number of Indian companies operating in the UK and their job creation levels have registered growth despite the challenges of Brexit and COVID-19 pandemic over the past year, the 'India Meets Britain Tracker' concludes in a report released here on Thursday.

The 2021 tracker, collated annually by Grant Thornton and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to weigh up the contribution of Indian businesses to the UK economy, found that the number of Indian companies operating in the country grew from 842 in the 2020 tracker to 850 and these firms employed 116,046 people, an increase from 110,793 on the previous year.

The total turnover of these companies added up to GBP 50.8 billion, up from GBP 41.2 billion and 47 per cent have at least one woman on their board, compared with 20 per cent in last year’s analysis.

“I welcome these findings, which show that the UK continues to be a highly attractive destination for Indian investors, who are both bringing jobs to the UK and increasing female representation at the highest level in our boardrooms,” said Lord Gerry Grimstone, UK Minister for Investment, during a virtual launch of the report.

“Deeper trading ties with India will ensure more fast-growing companies like Birlasoft and Diligenta will have the opportunity to bring jobs and growth to the UK, as we build back better, and stronger, from COVID-19,” he said.

During the course of 2020, despite continued uncertainty over the final outcome of the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU), the research finds that Indian investors continued to invest in the UK and were involved in 10 acquisitions – the highest of any single EU country – throughout the year, including four in the technology and telecoms industry and two in manufacturing.

“Trade and investment flows between India and the United Kingdom have remained on a positive trajectory despite the pandemic,” said Gaitri Issar Kumar, the Indian High Commissioner to the UK.

“Our governments are committed to removal of trade barriers and encouraging collaborations in innovation and technology development particularly in sectors where our nations have complementary capabilities,” she said.

The report also provides a tracker of the fastest growing Indian-owned companies in the UK, measured by those with a turnover of more than GBP 5 million, year-on-year revenue growth of at least 10 per cent and a minimum two-year track record in the UK.

This year, 49 companies met the qualifying criteria for appearing in the tracker, achieving an average revenue growth rate of 40 per cent.

The corporation tax payments were down somewhat from GBP 462 million previously to GBP 459.2 million during the course of 2020, a reflection of the economic upheaval unleashed by the pandemic.

“Despite the challenges of the past year and, as Britain aims to increase trading and investment links around the world post Brexit, the long-standing ties between Britain and India only look set to deepen,” said Anuj Chande, Head of South Asia Business Group, Grant Thornton UK LLP.

“Our research finds that the number of Indian companies operating in the UK has increased and that many continue to grow at a rapid rate, with some recording triple digit growth,” he said.

For the eighth year in a row since the report was launched, technology and telecoms companies dominated the tracker, accounting for 20 of the 49 companies included.

Birlasoft Solutions tops the list as the fastest-growing company this year, recording 158 per cent revenue growth.

Meanwhile, Diligenta, owned by Tata Sons, was the largest company listed, with revenue of GBP 388 million and an impressive growth rate of 62 per cent.

While technology and telecoms continue to dominate, the proportion of pharmaceuticals and chemicals companies featuring in the tracker increased significantly this year, up to 27 per cent of the total from 15 per cent in 2020.

Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), said: “The statistics are a reflection of the strong contribution that Indian industry has continued to make in the UK, in keeping jobs and supporting the local economy.

“As discussions around the India and UK Enhanced Trade Partnership agreement continue, and as nations continue to battle the pandemic, CII and its members have worked towards facilitating an economic recovery path which has been invaluable and it is therefore highly encouraging to see the role our Indian industry has played here in the UK.” The Tracker also finds that London remains the preferred location for fastest-growing companies, with over half (53 per cent) of the fastest-growing Indian companies in this year's report located in London, confirming the UK capital as their continued preferred location though there is also growing interest across other regions. PTI AK IND AKJ IND