Lord Paul’s Caparo Group has seen spectacular growth over recent years as a result of its strategy of building up a presence in the fast growing economy of India.
The company’s stated aim was to be the biggest automotive company in Lord Paul’s native country.
But growth in India, while still there, has collapsed dramatically along with other Eastern economies. So Caparo’s plans have stalled. The result is hundreds of job losses in Caparo factories and a dramatic drop in the value of the company and its assets.
Its value on 2008 figures is put at £400m, down from £1.4 billion.
A multi-million pound deal with Korean group Hyundai to build luxury buses in southern India has also gone onto the back-burner. As Lord Paul’s son and Caparo chief executive Angad Paul said: “Now is not the time to be making luxury buses.” The venture would have produced 1500 coaches a year.
But the group remains ambitious and when economies across the world – but particularly India – crank back into life, Caparo will be well-placed to take advantage.
The company has three entities on the sub-continent: Caparo Maruti, Caparo Engineering India and Caparo India Private Ltd. Caparo’s first venture in India was back in 1994 when the company set up a joint venture with Maruti, then India’s largest car company.
Lord Paul has set up the Caparo School of Excellence in Manufacturing and Materials Technology in Jalandhar – the town where Lord Paul’s father first set up a business making steel buckets.
Caparo also presses panels and manufactures body structures for Tata’s value-for-money small car, the Nano which sells for around £1,000. Caparo supplies Tata from a new facility in Singur, next to Tata’s factory. The company also has a stamping facility in Pithampur in the Madhya Pradesh region.
Caparo’s success and Lord Paul’s wealth came through the meteoric rise of the Indian and Chinese economies and their insatiable demand for raw materials.
Lord Paul of Marylebone’s Black Country-based Caparo Group was founded by the 79 year-old Indian in 1968.
Steel, automotive, engineering and property group Caparo has its major regional office in Oldbury and a technology division on Wolverhampton Science Park. It has other Midland facilities in West Bromwich, Stourbridge and Warwick. It continues to expand worldwide from more than 60 sites in Europe, Asia and North America, with India the main focus of its growth.
Caparo is also in the excitement business, having produced the Caparo T1 high performance two seater track or road sports car. The T1 smashed the track record at the Dubai Autodrome.
In addition one of Lord Paul’s sons, Ambar, heads the family’s fast growing Contemporary Hotels chain.
Lord Paul is chancellor of two universities – Wolverhampton and Westminster. In the House of Lords he is a vocal champion of the economic importance of universities and the contribution made by the higher educational institutions to the country’s prosperity. He has championed a far-reaching high-tech collaboration between Caparo and Wolverhampton University.
He founded the Ambika Paul Charitable Foundation, named after his late daughter, which has donated many millions to good causes, including a £1 million donation to London Zoo – one of his daughter’s favourite places - to prevent it from closing.
Despite his millions, Lord Paul is a strict vegetarian who lives by simple Hindu principles and encourages his employees to put integrity and respect at the top of their values.