Webinar

Webinar: Tracking Indian investment in the UK

Anuj Chande Anuj Chande

Our India meets Britain Tracker report identifies the contribution that Indian companies make to the UK economy. At the launch webinar, we highlighted the ones making a difference in Britain.

On 7 May 2020, over 200 business leaders in the UK and India attended our webinar to launch our India meets Britain Tracker report about the latest trends of Indian investment in the UK. Watch our webinar to learn which Indian companies are the fastest-growing in the UK, as well as the top Indian employers.

During this session, our guest speakers launched our new India meets Britain Tracker report:

  • Former High Commissioner of India in the UK, Mrs Ruchi Ghanashyam, and UK Minister for Investment, Lord Grimstone of Boscobel Kt, shared their views on the future of the India-UK relationship
  • Two Indian investors, Head of EMEA and Corporate at HCL Technologies, Mr Ashish Gupta, and UK and Ireland Head at OYO Rooms, Mr Rishabh Gupta, who spoke about their UK journeys and their plans in the post-COVID-19 environment
Report
India meets Britain Tracker 2020 Find out more

India meets Britain Tracker report

Despite an unsettled environment for business over the past year, Indian companies continued to make a significant contribution to the UK economy. Anuj Chande summarises our India meets Britain Tracker 2020, which delivers strong evidence of the enduring partnership between the two countries. 

Download India meets Britain tracker 2020

If you would like to discuss any matters arising in this publication or find out more about our work with Indian companies investing in the UK, contact Anuj Chande or Chandru Iyer.

Q&A

After the session, attendees were offered the chance to ask questions of our experts and guests. We have summarised some of the questions below.

Are there any specific concerns that Indian companies have raised during the ongoing crisis; and any steps the UK can take to address those, looking ahead to the post-COVID-19 landscape?

The concerns raised by Indian companies match those raised by their peers, in terms of need for cash and funding support, and operational challenges brought by lockdown, including lack of availability of labour in the workplace, logistical issues on shipment, lack of capabilities in technology, etc.

The UK recovery, just like elsewhere in the world, is going to be a long process and the government will need to provide continued support to all businesses, including Indian-owned ones. The recent government announcement to extend the furlough scheme to October is a step in the right direction and similar extensions may be required for other existing government support.

Which sectors will see growth from Indian investment in 2020-21? The UK has a reliance on Indian companies from job creation and capital investment perspective.

It is not easy to predict the sectors where growth will come from as the Indian economy itself will be resetting as well. However, it is reasonable to assume that the top growth sectors coming from India will remain technology and telecoms, pharmaceuticals and chemicals, and engineering and manufacturing.

What is the time period over which this survey was conducted? Are the numbers entirely "pre-pandemic"? If yes, how do you anticipate the numbers to be impacted for next year?

The numbers are pre-pandemic. We expect the numbers next year to be marginally impacted and the full impact could be observed in subsequent years.

Do you think, as businesses look to on-shore and governments have sought to look after themselves instead of working collectively, this will lead to inward-looking economies and a propensity to weaken globalisation as a movement? Will this weaken the links between countries?

There is a possibility that the pandemic would lead to greater isolationism and protection of domestic businesses, but we live in a global world where customers and suppliers are international and agile, and the need to think and act globally will continue to remain and grow.

Questions were also directed at Rishabh Gupta, Head of UK and Ireland, OYO Rooms.

Can you please explain the steps that OYO took in the UK to cater to the needs of frontline staff and stranded students, and how rewarding was it?

At the end of March, OYO announced that it would keep over 2,000 rooms across the UK open to key workers and those in need of interim accommodation, with the option of significantly increasing this capacity according to the need. Fixed-rate accommodation was offered from £25 per night when staying seven nights or more, or from £32 per night for shorter stays. Rates were not set with profitability in mind. Our prime concern was how we could help ‘the cause’ and also our partners, each of which is a small business that’s integral in some way to its community and also wants to survive through this pandemic. We have seen over 50,000 room nights booked for government-approved purposes since the UK lockdown began.

What plans does OYO have for the forthcoming months as the UK still deals with the current situation?

We will continue to service the community. Now, with manufacturing and construction businesses in England being encouraged to resume operations, OYO has pledged to make further rooms available and extend its long-stay accommodation rates for essential workers. We have already opened another 1200+ rooms across various cities in the UK to support the cause at similar price points.

Is the UK a market that the company remains committed to and what are your long-terms plans?

Yes. UK remains a key market and we are looking to sustainably grow in the near future. Long term, we want to be one of the largest budget hotel brands in the UK. With over 200+ hotels currently in the portfolio, we have a very strong foundation.

As a new entrant, you have some experience of setting up in the UK. What is your advice for companies planning to set up in the UK. are there any do’s and don’ts for them?

For companies looking to set up in the UK, the following need to be carefully considered:

Setting up the right team

Our learning is that ensuring a good mix between local talent and talent from the HQ can considerably help in building the right foundation. The local talent brings the local knowledge and know-how, and talent from HQ can bring the right organisation values. However, it is important that local hires are aligned to the company values and the HQ transferees can adapt themselves in a multicultural/diverse setup.

Cost structures

The UK brings a very different cost structure to the equation and being mindful that setting up in a market like the UK may need more investment is important. Investing too little sometimes doesn't help you break the market and investing too much may result in negative ROI. A small pilot can help understand the real cost-structures basis through which a business plan and investment requirements can be better understood.

Ashish Gupta, Head of EMEA and Corporate VP at HCL Technologies, also answered questions from the audience.

Can you explain the steps that HCL is taking in lieu of the current situation?

At this stage, we think that COVID-19 may be a short-term crisis, but will be a medium- to long-term opportunity for our clients to take more tech into their operations. Given this, we have three clear principles that we are using to navigate the crisis:

Employees continue to be at the heart of what we do

Standing firm with our clients in this time and helping them tide over the crisis

Working with the Prince’s Trust to enable marginalised youth especially during COVID-19

HCL is closely working with the UK public services, can you share some insights in terms of how HCL is adding value to the UK?

We work with a lot of police forces in the UK and enable the police constables on the street with mobility solutions, which make their work easier and faster. We are working with our clients in the forces to enable them to:

  • Move away from classroom briefing to briefing directly on mobile devices
  • Audio/video-enabled witness statements and risk assessments 
  • Secure video-enabled process to transform domestic violence investigations
  • Inclusion of COVID-19 markers in the mobile solutions
  • COVID-19 forms  
Any advice for the smaller/mid-size Indian tech businesses in the UK in terms of generating opportunities?

Conserve cash. Some people with very small reserves have been thinking about acquisitions as they're available cheaply. I would not advise that people play that game. This crisis among all will demand that 'cash is king'.  

Focus on propositions where you have examples and use cases that ideally:

  • Help reduce costs
  • Increase the ability of a client to function remotely
  • Increase customer digital (ie, enable customers to sell services with a digital wrapper)

Anticipate that this will go longer than anyone thinks and, hence, it's important to pace yourself over time, or else, it’s the perfect environment to become despondent.

How do you see the Indian tech sector reinventing itself to remain relevant in the post-COVID-19 environment?

I believe that every crisis is an opportunity. This is another massive opportunity for HCL and other India-based IT companies to accelerate in helping clients transform. With our collaborative client relationships, which have been built over long periods of time, our ability to scale expertise even in the newest age of skills, and our ability to do it at a far higher value than most IT companies can globally, there is no reason this crisis won’t be like 2008/2009, when the next few years after the downturn were the best for the industry as we had a lot playing for us. This crisis will be even more helpful for the Indian IT sector to become more global, local and scale.

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