December 2008

The essence of "Tata-ness"

Indian companies are now spending more on buying businesses in the UK than in any other country and Tata is no exception

For many years, India has enjoyed a buoyant business relationship with the UK. More recently, this has led to some of its leading companies securing high profile acquisitions in the region. Indian companies are now spending more on buying businesses in the UK than in any other country, and Tata is no exception.
Tetley, Corus, Jaguar, Land Rover, Brunner Mond. All household names in UK business and now under the parentage of Tata. So how does a large Indian conglomerate seamlessly integrate such a variety of individual businesses into its fold and provide the necessary parental support, whilst still allowing them to preserve their own identities?
In June 2008, Tata Motors successfully acquired one of the most well-known and established brands in UK motoring, Jaguar Land Rover. This deal helped increase the total value of Indian acquisitions in the UK to £1.52 billion in the first half of 2008.
David Smith, CEO, Jaguar Land Rover, discusses the deal: "Tata made it clear from the outset that they want us to be autonomous, to make all our own key decisions and to be nimble enough to make them quickly. They are not trying to micro-manage and have put their trust in us to run the business. Tata is a very principled organisation, with corporate responsibility high on the agenda but which works differently from the US or European model, and theirs is a refreshing view of business. At Jaguar Land Rover, we have a highly skilled, passionate and capable team and recognise we have a great opportunity to invest in the future of our business, but to do so requires us to get really focused on improving our speed, agility and investment / cost efficiency. Indeed, Tata has encouraged us to go further and faster. With their support, we have the chance to achieve this and to unlock the huge potential we recognise in our team, strengthening our position as Britain's number one automotive company. "
Tata holds five core values at its heart – integrity, understanding, excellence, unity and responsibility. These are woven into the fabric of Tata and its brands, and are fundamental to its success around the globe.
“The Tata group is built on unique strengths, a pioneering spirit and a deeply etched value system,” said Mr Ramadorai, CEO and MD of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). “We at TCS, in the time-honored tradition of the group, are looking to growing into a valuable full services partner for our clients, make pioneering forays into new emerging markets while keeping a strong foundation of values wherever we go.”
Tata’s experience in the UK, spanning more than a century, provides good grounding and sound knowledge of the way in which UK companies choose to operate in order to grow. Since establishing Tata Limited in 1907 to represent the group in Europe, Tata has grown to become the largest Indian employer in the UK, nurturing skills across numerous sectors from chemicals and motoring to steel and leisure. Being part of the Tata group, all the individual businesses are able to exploit and subsequently benefit from having access to other customers, skills and expertise.
Philippe Varin, CEO, Corus, provides weight to this claim and comments: "The combination of Tata Steel and Corus has created the world's sixth largest steelmaker, and the second most geographically diverse. Moreover, the Tata Steel group can claim to be the only major global steel producer to be part of a large multinational conglomerate such as the Tata group. The opportunities this provides include affiliation with a large customer in the automotive industry, as well as access to group expertise in IT and power generation. Together we aim to forge a benchmark company in the world steel industry focused on returns for investors as well as our responsibilities to our people, communities and the environment."
However, the qualities of Indian expertise combined with a different culture, outlook and a fresh approach cannot be overlooked as a key reason for Tata’s achievements in successfully acquiring and nurturing UK businesses.
“We were enthusiastic from the outset at having an owner who understands the business well and can offer us access to fantastic resources, which we could not previously afford as an independent company. In particular, with the help of Tata’s world-class R&D capabilities, we are able to plan for future growth as an international business,” commented John Kerrigan, CEO, Brunner Mond.
The Tata group projects a certain business confidence which is infectious to the businesses it acquires, and this confidence can be attributed to its proven successes. However, it is also a dedication to R&D which is crucial to the group’s growth, especially since it operates across so many different, fast-changing industries.
“Being part of the Tata group obviously gives us access to greater resources. Perhaps more importantly, it exposes us to a different culture, a culture that is global, acquisitive, fast-moving and responsive to change. Becoming part of this will help Tetley achieve its ambitions,“ said Peter Unsworth, CEO, Tetley Tea.
History proves that Tata has found a successful formula to creating a suitable environment for its businesses to grow. As cited by the heads of its key UK businesses, Tata’s values, business experience and confidence, expertise and fresh approach, all have a role to play. Acquired businesses feel the benefits of being part of the wider Tata family, whilst still being given the opportunity to grow as individual brands. The growth and ongoing exposure of brands such as Tetley and Jaguar Land Rover in the UK is testament to this.