Cyril Sweett has formed a strategic alliance with the Indian arm of US property company Trammell Crow.

The two firms have been co-operating in an informal way for 11 years, but now the volume of foreign investment in the subcontinent has led to a more formal arrangement.

Francis Ives, the chairman of Cyril Sweett, said: "I don't think there are any other firms making similar alliances, but we think it's a very strong market and a tremendous opportunity."

A recent Merrill Lynch report predicted that the number of large shopping centres in India would rise from 40 to 250 by 2010.

Cyril Sweett hopes its relationship with Trammell Crow Meghraj will allow it to take advantage of the expanding demand for consultancy services from international firms.

Trammell Crow Meghraj has seven offices and 600 staff. Jimmi Bradbury, Cyril Sweett's international managing director, said its local knowledge and resources were key to the alliance.

He said: "India has a lot going for it, but you have to do it with the knowledge that it's a big market.

India is a very strong market, and a tremendous opportunity

Francis Ives, Cyril Sweett

"They have the infrastructure and knowledge and they will get international clients from us."

Bradbury said he had no doubt that Cyril Sweet would be taking on more work in the Asian market, particularly as foreign investment in India is so strong.

"If you look at India as an economy, investment is phenomenal," he said. "While our core business is in the UK, we are driven by our clients and we need to give them what they want. The timing [for the alliance] is right for us because there will be a lot of investment from foreign countries, and we want to be helping with those investments."

Bradbury said India's middle class had increased dramatically over recent years, and many of them wanted to invest in property. However, much has still to be developed.

Bradbury said he expected other British consultants to realise India's potential and move into the market. "Anyone knows what's happening in India," he said. "It's a market people have to look at."

The Indian economy is forecast to grow at a rate of between 7% and 8% in 2006, the second highest growth rate for a large economy. However, the country's history of underdevelopment has created a huge suppressed demand for commercial and transport infrastructure.