The impact of the pandemic has cloaked the impact of Brexit, but research suggests that as many as a third of U.K. businesses are looking to move their operations overseas, many have already done so.
Relocating a business to another country is of course a major decision and to a certain extent it’s a leap into the dark: you are leaving a culture which you know and understand for one where you will have to relearn much of what you know.
Post Brexit, European countries have been eager to lure British businesses, with the offer of tax breaks and support, and there’s no disputing that a move from the U.K. can make good financial sense, as evidenced by the decision of Brexiteer, James Dyson to relocate his firm’s global headquarters to Singapore.
Relocating is an opportunity for expansion into new markets, rebranding, cheaper business costs and a change of lifestyle. Making the decision and effecting the change are complex procedures, but here are some starting points for consideration.
Financial and legal detail
It is crucial that you establish a comprehensive understanding of the business law and tax requirements of the country to which you are moving. This due diligence needs to be conducted by an independent bilingual legal expert.
In Europe or beyond? What do you want your new location to deliver? If it’s cheaper office space, then you might consider Barcelona or Lisbon. If you are looking to place your headquarters at the centre of things then perhaps Paris, home to 500 corporate headquarters and host to 9 million annual visitors to its conference and exhibition centres.
If you are looking for a pool of international talent, a stable economy and legislation, then you might consider Berlin. The choice is bewildering so you need to be clear in your thinking about what you want.
Everyone speaks English, don’t they? Well maybe, post Brexit, perhaps not so much, and even if they do, they don’t speak your English. Nuances of meaning are often lost on non-native speakers, however fluent they are, and this can lead to misunderstandings and potential problems. Do not under-estimate the difficulties that operating in a different language environment will present.
Saving on the cost of your workforce may be one of the incentives for moving to a particular location. In Lisbon, for example, 50% of 20–30-year-olds are STEM graduates, and they can be hired for considerably less than in other European cities.
Will you be able to replace established expertise? Will there be an understanding of the company brand? Will there be loyalty? If you relocate to a country such as India, for example, you will find labour relations very different from what you are used to.
How will you remarket in your new location?
If you relocate to Europe, the culture will have much in common with the U.K. but if you move further afield you will find profound cultural differences, to which you will need to be sensitive or you will risk causing unintended offence.