When one of India's largest banks was looking to establish their first branch in the UK outside London, a location in the East Midlands was a natural choice. The city of Leicester, with its strong business and cultural links to India provided a warm welcome to Canara Bank, and the support provided by the England's East Midlands team ensured their opening was as seamless and trouble-free as possible.

A prime location 

Canara Bank has been established in India since 1906, and after a successful few years of aquisitions and expansion in their home city of Bangalore and across India, their sights were set on expansion abroad. After establishing an international presence in major financial cities, the financial institution decided to focus on cementing a stronger UK presence.

At the heart of the UK, Leicester is already home to a number of Indian banks and boasts well-established trading links with Indian business. This provided a soft landing for Canara Bank's expansion. Nicola Kidd, Head of International Investment at East Midlands Economics Online (EMEO) comments: "This is the fifth major Indian bank that we have helped to set up in Leicester since 2006. It further strengthens the longstanding relationship between the city and India and demonstrates that overseas companies regard the East Midlands as an attractive region in which to do business."

Canara Bank's strategic expansion to the East Midlands also allows them to take advantage of a large local client base of business owners and domestic accounts originating from the Indian sub-continent. The bank, already familiar to those from Southern India, is aiming to provide services to those from that part of the country in addition to new clients discovering the bank for the first time.


Expert Help and Advice

Another great advantage was the skilled guidance and business support the team at England's East Midlands could provide for Canara Bank. Drawing together expertise from the East Midlands India Business Bureau - a regional organisation dedicated to promoting trade and development links with Indian business, and Prospect Leicestershire, who help investors grow in Leicester, plus the financial services sector expertise existing in the team, England's East Midlands was able to provide specialist support where it was needed most.

Stanislaus Pinto of Canara Bank, said: “The support provided by EMEO allowed us to move quickly with our plans to expand in the UK and build on trade links between the East Midlands and India. The networks, advice and introductions we were given made our opening in Leicester a positive experience.”

The team organised a scoping visit to introduce Canara Bank to Leicester and show them around. In addition to this, detailed reports were produced for them to show the Indian and business community demographics around the location and help the company to make a business case for expansion into the city. Once the decision had been made that Leicester was the best location, the team were able to introduce officials from Canara to property agents and other professionals to help them set up. Suitable premises were identified for the company to choose from and the team even arranged viewings until the bank identified their perfect location in the city's financial heart, Belgrave Road. This positioned the new branch centrally near other Indian banks in the city, including Punjab National Bank, The State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Bank of India and ICICI.

Ongoing Support

And once Canara Bank were primed to move into their new premises, the support offered by the team didn't stop there. They were on hand to help Canara Bank with follow-up processes, supporting them to complete their move. Canara Bank were introduced to local businesses and organisations to provide a network for their entry into the market.  There was also help available when Canara Bank wanted to publicise their new presence in the UK with a launch event.  The team were able to advise on guest lists and arrange media exposure for the new venture.

The opening of the new branch was received very well in the local community. Nick Carter, Chairman of Prospect Leicestershire, said: " It is very exciting that a significant international banking operation has chosen Leicester as the place to be.  This provides further evidence of the growing trade between Leicestershire and India and will give confidence to businesses to develop trade and investment opportunities."

The branch was inaugurated by A C Mahajan, the managing director of the bank. At the opening ceremony, he commented: "This shows the importance of Leicestershire's diverse, multicultural and business achievements. We are here to make Leicestershire a leading commercial hub."

The home of smart business

As Canara Bank discovered, the East Midlands region offers a great deal to businesses looking to expand and develop their UK or European operations. A central location combined with a focus on innovation and cutting-edge research, a significantly lower cost of operations than other UK locations, all set against a backdrop of vibrant cities and beautiful countryside ensures that many international companies choose to set up here.

The team at England's East Midlands provide free-of-charge, confidential business services for companies wishing to locate here, including providing demographic information, co-ordinating regional tours, identifying property, making connections with business and government and identifying grants and financial packages available.

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