Booming demand from China helped drive a record £1.5 billion profit at resurgent luxury car maker Jaguar Land Rover today.

The Midlands-based manufacturer, owned by Indian company Tata Motors, reported a 35% rise in its surplus for the year to the end of March, boosted by strong demand for its Range Rover Evoque.

Sales in China showed strong growth and now account for nearly one in five of the cars sold by the business.

The impressive performance underlines the resurgent fortunes of the UK's car manufacturing industry, which is now exporting more in value terms than it imports for the first time since the 1970s.

The number of cars JLR sold over the course of the year hit a record 314,433, up 29% on the previous year, while revenues increased 37% to £13.5 billion.

The UK remained its biggest market for retail sales, up 3.2% to 60,000.

But its two second biggest markets closed the gap, with China, where the booming middle classes continue to show a strong appetite for western luxury goods, up 76%, and North America seeing 15% growth.

JLR enjoyed a strong final quarter of its financial year, with the number of cars it sold up 48% to 98,000.
Of these, 19% went to China, compared to 13% in the same period the previous year.

The company, which employs 21,000 staff in the UK, has seen a dramatic turnaround in fortunes in recent years since the car market collapsed in the recession and it slumped to a loss.

Boosted by strong growth in emerging markets and the popularity of recent models, such as a version of the Jaguar XF with a 2.2 litre diesel engine, it has announced plans to increase production in the UK.

It is expected to create an extra 1,000 roles at its Halewood plant as it ramps up production of the Range Rover Evoque, including a new version which Victoria Beckham helped design.

The workforce in Merseyside will rise to almost 4,500 - treble the number employed there three years ago.

JLR is also creating 1,000 jobs at its factory in Solihull near Birmingham as part of plans to launch 40 products over the next four years and it is building a £355 million engine plant in Wolverhampton that will potentially create thousands of jobs.

The strong results at JLR boosted Tata Motors' overall performance. The group grew its profits by 46% to 135.2 billion rupees (£1.5 billion), while revenues were up 36% to 1.7 trillion rupees (£18.9 billion).

Roger Maddison, national officer of the Unite union, said JLR's success was "a testament to the hard work and sacrifices of its UK workforce".

He added: "During the 2008 credit crunch the workers agreed to £70 million of savings to support the company through the downturn.

"Tata's faith in its UK workforce has paid off with record profits. In a major turn around, JLR will have recruited over 5,000 new employees by the end of this year.

"It proves that investing in the UK motor industry and working positively with the union does create wealth."

SEE ALSO

Demand from China helped Jaguar - they're used to helping out businesses. Here is a list of seven things you (probably) didn't know China owned.

Loading Slideshow...
  • MG

    After the car company MG Rover Group went into administration, it was bought by the NAC, a carmaker <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2011/apr/12/mg-new-car-china-birmingham" target="_hplink">in China which then merged with the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation. </a>

  • Thames Water

    China own a 9% share in Thames Water. Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme about the acquisition, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16643989" target="_hplink">former business minister Lord Digby Jones said it was "good news":</a> "In Britain, and the water companies know this, [infrastructure] needs constant repairs , so more funds in to help that when it's not a drain on the public purse has to be right."

  • US Debt

    China owns $1,116,000,000,000 of US debt ($1.16 trillion) - 8%, <a href="http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/data-chart-center/tic/Documents/mfh.txt" target="_hplink">according to the US treasury.</a>

  • Shares

    In 2008 The Sunday Telegraph reported China's central bank had £9bn of shares in <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/utilities/9027885/UK-firms-wont-buy-British-so-dont-whine-if-China-does.html" target="_hplink">FTSE 100 companies such as HSBC, Unilever and Tesco.</a>

  • Sainsbury's

    .. Well not really. But according <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/9234766/Asda-in-China-Thatll-be-Mr-Liu-in-Shenzhen.html" target="_hplink">to The Daily Telegraph China has registered British retail names such</a> as Sainsbury's and John Lewis. The paper notes this could pose "problems" if they should take "their brands to the Asian powerhouse."

  • US Factories

    Yuncheng, a chinese company, bough 6.5 acres outside Spartanburg, South Carolina, and has a company there, American Yuncheng Gravure Cylinder plant. The property and electricity is cheaper - and as CNN money report "Chinese companies have invested $280 million and <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2010/05/06/news/international/china_america.fortune/index.htm" target="_hplink">created more than 1,200 jobs in South Carolina alone."</a>

  • Mining

    The Aluminium Corporation of China bought 11% of the British-Australian mining group Rio Tinto in 2008.