As the Prime Minister’s visit to India is postponed but conversations are set to continue online later this month on the plans for the future partnership between the UK and India; the eighth edition of the Grant Thornton India meets Britain Tracker explores the significant contribution Indian companies continue to make to the UK economy, which has increased in almost every measure compared to the previous year’s report.
The new research*, developed by Grant Thornton UK LLP in collaboration with the Confederation of Indian Industry, analyses the data of UK-incorporated limited companies that are either owned or controlled by Indian interests.
This year’s research finds that there are 850 Indian companies operating in the UK, up from 842 in the 2020 report. These companies:
- recorded £50.8billion total turnover, up from £41.2billion in 2020
- employed 116,046 people, an increase from 110,793 in 2020
- paid £459.2million in corporation tax, down from £461.8million in 2020
- 47% have at least one woman on their board, compared with 20% in 2020
During 2020, despite continued uncertainty over the final outcome of the UK’s exit from the European Union, the research finds that Indian investors have continued to invest in the UK. They were involved in ten acquisitions (the highest of any single EU country) throughout the year, including four in the technology and telecoms industry and two in manufacturing.
Tracker analyses fastest-growing Indian companies in the UK
The report also provides a Tracker of the fastest growing Indian-owned companies in the UK, measured by those with turnover of more than £5 million, year-on-year revenue growth of at least 10% 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%.
Technology and telecoms companies dominate but interest in pharmaceuticals rises
For the eighth year in a row, technology and telecoms companies dominate the Tracker, accounting for 20 of the 49 companies included. Birlasoft Solutions tops the list as the fastest-growing company this year, recording 158% revenue growth. Meanwhile Diligenta (owned ultimately by Tata Sons) was the largest company listed, with revenue of £388million and an impressive growth rate of 62%.
While technology and telecoms continues to dominate, the proportion of pharmaceuticals and chemicals companies featuring in the Tracker increased significantly this year, up to 27% of the total from 15% in the 2020 report.
London remains preferred location for fastest-growing companies
Over half (53%) of the fastest-growing Indian companies in this year’s report are located in London, confirming the capital as their continued preferred location. However, the South is found to be growing in popularity, with the proportion based in this region up by almost half to just over 16%, from 11% last year.
Fastest-growing companies leading the way with diversity
This year’s Tracker identified that over half (53%) of the fastest growing companies have a female director on their board. This is higher than the comparative figure for the entire Indian company landscape in the UK – with 47% of the 850 Indian companies reporting a female director on their board.
Anuj Chande, Head of South Asia Business Group, Grant Thornton UK LLP, commented:
“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.
“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.
“Brexit marks a significant moment for the UK-India relationship. With a UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement now reached, the UK is free to begin developing its new post-Brexit identity as a ‘Global Britain’ and to strengthen links with major economies beyond Europe. India looks to be one of the first, with the Prime Minister’s postponed visit to India – set to have been his first international visit outside of Europe post-Brexit - a clear indication of the significance of the relationship, with both parties confirming that the conversation will continue online for now.
“As the UK government looks to supercharge the economic partnership to support growth, jobs and prosperity, and India continues its journey to becoming one of the world’s largest economies, the ‘living bridge’ between the two countries, formed by more than 1.5 million Indian diaspora living in the UK, will be more important than ever. India is also likely to benefit from the major modifications made to the UK’s immigration policy, with the new point-based system for visas for skilled workers likely to benefit India significantly due to the creation of a more level playing field.”
Minister for Investment Gerry Grimstone said:
“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.
“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.”
Commissioner of India to the UK, Ms. Gaitri Issar Kumar added:<
“Trade and investment flows between India and the United Kingdom have remained on a positive trajectory despite the pandemic. 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. I congratulate all the Indian companies listed - whose leadership and success will inspire new ventures.”
Mr 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.”
*based on the latest published 2019/20 accounts filed as at 31 March 2021, where available. Turnover figures have been annualised where periods of less or more than 12 months have been reported. As our research relies on published and filed accounts, there is inevitably a time lag between the recording of the performance of the companies and the publication of this report.