Jaguar Land Rover, the UK-based carmaker owned by India’s Tata Group, has voiced its concern about the riots in many parts of the UK over the past week.
Ralph Speth, chief executive, told reporters that he was alarmed by “some of the pictures [coming] out of the UK”. He added that he had never expected to see riots sweep the home of his company's famous car marques.
Indian broadcasters have strongly featured the violence in the UK, with news bulletins led by footage of people smashing up cars, looting shops and burning buildings.
British diplomats in India have been monitoring reaction in the country to the events in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool and other UK cities and towns.
The views of JLR’s management, which has helped the company achieve a turnround over the past three years, will be of concern to the UK government. David Cameron, the prime minister, and George Osborne, the chancellor, have celebrated the Mumbai-based Tata Group as the UK’s biggest manufacturing employer after purchases of JLR and Corus, the steelmaker.
However, one director of Tata Sons, the Tata Group holding company, said he felt assured that the UK’s difficulties were temporary and localised. He said his group strongly favoured the UK for its “open society” and the global nature of a business environment that welcomed foreign investment.
JLR is strongly associated with the UK Midlands. It employs about 14,000 people in the UK and has factories in Liverpool, Solihull and Bromwich Castle.
The latest financial results of Tata Motors, the company that owns JLR, show a declining contribution by the UK to JLR’s sales as the group expands its business in India, China, Russia and Brazil.
In the quarter to the end of June, the UK’s proportion of sales fell to 19 per cent of the total, compared with 24 per cent for the same period last year, while China accounted for 15 per cent of sales from an earlier 8 per cent.
JLR, which said last month it was boosting its capital expenditure on development by 50 per cent to £1.5bn, intends to turn increasingly to India for its cars’ parts and other components. In May, it opened a full-assembly factory – its first outside the UK – in Pune, in the western state of Maharashtra, to produce the Land Rover Freelander.
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