- Neeraj Kanwar is boss of Apollo Tyres
- Company has seven factories internationally – but none within the UK
- Employment expert brands Kanwar’s remarks as ‘crude national stereotyping’
Stereotyping: Neeraj Kanwar is managing director of Indian firm Apollo Tyres
The boss of a multinational tyre-making giant said he wouldn’t construct a factory within the UK because British staff ‘hardly work – they go to the pub’.
London-based Neeraj Kanwar is managing director of Indian firm Apollo Tyres, which has seven factories internationally – including a European base in Hungary – but none within the UK.
Kanwar, 52, who also owns an Italian restaurant in London called Scalini, blamed the welfare state for making it less vital for people to should hold down jobs. But an employment expert branded Kanwar’s remarks as ‘crude national stereotyping’.
Apollo, which enjoyed revenues of £2.3billion in the most recent financial 12 months to the top of March 2023, employs greater than 18,000 staff globally and is a long-term sponsor of Manchester United.
Within the UK, the corporate has a ‘thin’ team of around 30 working on its corporate brand, finance and a few HR operations. It also has considered one of two innovation hubs within the UK – with the opposite in Hyderabad in India – and has a tie-up with Glasgow University, working in areas corresponding to artificial intelligence to spice up productivity at its factories.
But Kanwar dismissed the concept of producing within the UK given the scarcity of staff.
‘There isn’t any incentive to enter the UK,’ he said.
‘Hungary gave us incentives, the associated fee of labour is far more competitive after which the associated fee of production becomes far more easy. And you understand how the workforce within the UK is. They hardly work – they go to the pub.’
Kanwar said the remark was a quip but added: ‘I feel because of presidency policies people can sit home and get pensions and so they need not work, and that is a giant policy issue.’
Apollo was founded within the Nineteen Seventies by Kanwar’s grandfather Raunaq Singh. Kanwar’s London base can also be a ‘semi-HQ’ for Apollo’s global operations outside India. The remarks come as London faces a battle to re-establish itself as a hub for international business chiefs, a lot of whom have chosen to base themselves within the UK or list their businesses here even when their major operations are overseas.
Kanwar’s views were criticised by labour market economist John Philpott. He said: ‘This strikes me as crude national stereotyping that might be condemned if made by a British employer about staff overseas.
‘Staff in all developed countries are inclined to get more choosy about job decisions as income levels and education improves, which is one reason why migrant labour is used to fill lower paid roles.
‘But there’s little evidence to suggest that able-bodied individuals with few other options can reject jobs due to the provision of advantages. Indeed, one can see from the undeniable fact that so many young educated British people find yourself in less expert and insecure work within the so-called gig economy that a straightforward life on advantages spent down the pub shouldn’t be a widespread preference.’