Nadine Ulrich | Managing Director |German Centre Delhi.Gurgaon

First published in M+V’s India Insight in June 2010

Around 1,800 German companies are active in India – and this figure looks set to increase even further. One such company is family-run business Lödige Systems GmbH from Westphalia that specializes in the development, production and installation of distribution and warehouse centres for the air cargo industry. Their latest project is the design, delivery and installation of components for the “in-town check-in system” for the New Delhi Airport Metro system from the city centre to the airport. “Due to the current privatisation of airports and the issuing of concessions to private investors for the provision of air cargo and ground handling services, we see good opportunities for our products,” says Axel Hellriegel, Director of Business Development India, who has set up the newly opened Indian branch of this medium-sized company since October 2009. The Indian subcontinent is also very promising for other companies, although it does hide some difficulties. “There are few companies that do not underestimate the challenges faced in the Indian market,” says Mr Hellriegel.

The engineering graduate has been working abroad now for almost 10 years and he sees India as his greatest challenge to date. “Life is very tough over here. As interesting and diverse as the country is, for a German it is like entering into another world.” He cites poor infrastructure, the high level of price sensitivity and the lack of networks as a few examples of the difficulties faced. That’s why an institution like the German Centre Delhi. Gurgaon is “absolutely essential”. The German Centre makes it easier for medium-sized companies to enter the Indian market. “We provided start-up support to them with ready-to-use offices and a comprehensive range of advisory and other services”, says Managing Director Nadine Ulrich.

Direct access to reliable service providers and contact partners who know the local conditions inside out were decisive factors for Axel Hellriegel. In addition, it was the available infrastructure that impressed him. “We had to find an office in a good location that was also already well equipped. Following my arrival, I only had to plug in my laptop and I was ready to start working immediately.

The availability of adequate office space was crucial for his neighbour Martin Wörlein, head of the Indian offices of the consulting firm Rödl & Partner. The company from Nuremberg specialises in company audits, tax consultancy, legal advice and management consultancy. “In particular, as a service provider it is important for us to meet our clients in an environment that is similar to the quality expected in Germany”, Mr Wörlein states. It is for this reason that the company, which had already been present in India for many years, moved into the German Centre last year. Just like Mr Hellriegel, Martin Wörlein has also gained international experience abroad working in Great Britain and the USA, which, looking back ,he found quite similar to Germany.

India is a totally different story: “It is not possible – simply to come over to India and feel immediately at home.”

But rather it requires patience and personal commitment to become fully settled here. In his opinion, the major reason for this is the unfamiliar mentality in India. “Business relationships are very personal here. Business deals are not concluded in next to no time but are based upon trust between the business partners. The inadequate infrastructure is also seen by Mr Wörlein as a huge burden – “particularly because I have to travel so much to meet clients and professional colleagues“.

Martin Wörlein and his family have now managed to settle in well. As difficult as the transition was, it has provided him with a very different everyday life – and he would not have wanted to miss this experience because India is so “exciting and inspiring”.

Links to additional information:

Lödige Industries Group: www.loedige.com

Rödl & Partner: www.roedl.de

German Centres Delhi.Gurgaon: www.gurgaon.germancentre.com

German Centre Network: www.germancentre.com