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India boom causes UK U-turn

Booming workload in India is forcing UK consultants to ditch their sweatshop mentality and refocus local offices on winning local work, exclusive research by NCE has revealed.

NCE’s survey of all UK-based consultants operating in India have revealed a clear trend towards a refocusing efforts onto the local economy.

Consultants most firmly embedded in the country have made the first move, with Scott Wilson, Pell Frischmann and Mott MacDonald all putting their staff to work predominantly locally.

Mott MacDonald leads the way among UK firms with the most staff employed in India, largely due to its 2001 acquisition of Indian company Dalal. Of it’s staff, 71% are now focused on local work and it operates with no permanent expatriate staff.

Pell Frischmann and Scott Wilson are similarly embedded, both having set up in India more than 10 years ago, and now have 89% and 75% of staff working locally, respectively.

“All the UK consultants who have succeeded in India – Pell Frischmann, Atkins, Jacobs, Scott Wilson and Mott MacDonald all have more than 350 staff – have bought and/or grown
100%-controlled subsidiaries,” said Pell Frischmann director Tushar Prabhu.

Soaring workload is likely to see this increase further: 6,000km of road building is under way, as is the construction of three metro systems, 13 seaports, two upgraded airports, 22,000km of oil and gas pipelines, and 80,000MW of power stations.

This workload is translating directly into turnover for consultants. The biggest earner last year was Mott MacDonald with £12M, followed by MWH and Parsons Brinckerhoff with £6M, Scott Wilson with £5.4M and Halcrow with £5M.

NCE's exclusive research is published in the magazine on Thursday 13 September.

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