Bottom Line: Tesco hopes to charm shoppers

 
Marion Dakers

When Starbucks opened its first stores in Mumbai last October, queues around the Taj Mahal hotel stretched almost to the Gateway of India - the imposing arch on the harbour under which Boris Johnson held a bike-riding photo call a few weeks later.

America’s frothy coffee seemed, at the time, to go down much better with Mumbaikars than the Brompton-peddling Mayor of London. But his efforts have nevertheless added to a head of steam for British firms that don’t have Starbucks’ global brand pull.

Firms including JCB, Arup and Balfour Beatty are now a step closer to lucrative transport work in two of the country’s most populous areas, thanks to a memo of understanding between the cities and Transport for London that was mooted during Boris’s visit.

Meanwhile retailers including Debenhams, Monsoon and Tesco will keep asking for more access to India’s growing middle class this week.

Johnson’s argument last year that consumers would enjoy cheaper goods as a result of international competition is likely to be carried forward by the Prime Minister during his trip.

Tesco has been biding its time in the country, with a minor partnership with Tata that served the dual purpose of acting as a path to becoming a recognised brand and as a practice ground for its hit-and-miss global tactics (much needed following disappointments in the US and China).

Now the firm hopes it is ready to charm India’s shoppers as politicians have already done on its behalf.

TIMES STILL TOUGH FOR LONDON FLOATS

Partnership Assurance might hope to float by the middle of the year, but the odds are not yet in its favour. For every Crest Nicholson in 2013, there have been several disappointments like NefteTransService – the rail operator that delayed its IPO last month. One share-sale does not a summer make.

Marion Dakers is City A.M.’s deputy news editor @mvdakers