“Six and a half per cent of London’s population is of Indian-origin, either first-generation or second generation,” says Hemin Bharucha, Country Director-India and Senior Leadership Team member at London & Partners (L&P). “When I walk the London streets, I can hear Marathi, I can hear Hindi; all sorts of Indian languages being spoken.”
With over two decades of international trade experience working at senior levels with global companies, Hemin has been heavily involved in broadening the India-UK bilateral relationship.
From providing strategic direction for investment projects to generating business development and marketing opportunities, he has successfully consulted and advised a wide spectrum of companies during the course of his career.
“We work with 50 different partners; accounting firms, legal firms, immigration firms. All of them can help Indian companies to set up in London especially. We look at attracting partners from tech, from creativity, mobility and life sciences,” explains Hemin.
His affiliation with Britain and British agencies stretches back decades, including working at the Scottish Development International, Scotland’s trade and inward investment agency, and the Yorkshire Forward initiative of the British High Commission, where he influenced and facilitated Indian companies to expand their business in the UK, before becoming L&P’s India head in 2017.
On being asked whether the main job of L&P is to market the city as a destination for companies to open their offices, he says that it is equally for London-based companies to do business in key global markets including India.
L&P was launched as a non-profit company in 2011 by the then Mayor Boris Johnson, aimed at promoting the city as an attractive destination for businesses, students and investment. It focuses on building London's international reputation, helping to retain and grow businesses, attracting international audiences and guiding them to grow with the city.
Despite the negative impact of the pandemic and the economic downturn that has resulted from it, L&P is gearing up for a post-COVID recovery. In fact, says Hemin, they supported 16 new companies that set up shop in the city in 2020 without even physically looking at space.
“It is a testimony to the city of London as a safe place to invest for Indian companies,“ Hemin says.
He added that India and the UK share a similarity in accounting and legal systems as well as a historical familiarity with each other. London has also developed as a global hub for tech, finance and education, which is another major draw for businesses.
“With India, we focus mainly on trade, investment and on students. The biggest pull for companies is that the customer is sitting in London,” Hemin adds. However, he says, one of the most important tasks L&P faces is identifying companies that would be a good fit for the city, especially when it comes to midsize and smaller companies and startups. A lot of research and effort goes into determining the compatibility of a firm with what the city has to offer in terms of networking, facilities and technology.
“We work with high-growth companies whose sectors align with good growth for London. London is Open”, Hemin says, signing off.