The UK has always been an outward-facing trading nation.
Its influence around the world has been felt for centuries. And, just as UK businesses look to trade internationally, it remains a popular destination for international businesses to locate to grow and expand.
John Bennett, a consultant at Hillier Hopkins, has spent the past 15 years helping international businesses with their growth plans. Here, he explains what makes the UK – and Milton Keynes – so attractive.
“The UK is a great place for overseas businesses to grow and generate profits,” says John. “Ours is a large and successful economy. Our language and culture make it easy for companies to operate, we boast a well-educated talent pool, and our time zone makes it particularly attractive for businesses with a foot in North America and Asia.”
But those are not the only reasons. The UK, and particularly the regions around Milton Keynes, boast real strengths across many industry sectors, including technology clusters in Oxford, Cambridge and London’s ‘Silicon Roundabout’, world-class automotive and motor racing industries, and, of course, financial services.
“Our established and much replicated legal system, a stable political environment and the quality of life in the UK should also not be underestimated,” says John. “There is a lot that is attractive to overseas businesses looking to expand.”
The impact of Brexit is impossible to ignore when discussing the UK’s position on the world stage, but it is, says John, a temporary hiccup.
“Businesses look to make investments over much longer time frames, and whilst Brexit is a frustration for many businesses, the long-term prospects for the UK are excellent. London is a global gateway city and the regions punch well on the international stage.”
So what does an overseas business need to consider when putting down a UK footprint?
“Management teams will want to concentrate on the reasons behind expansion – building the business, product development and finding new customers,” says John. “They do not want to be distracted by the compliance and processes that need to happen.
“The first step should be to put together the right team of advisers – accountants, lawyers and HR consultants – leaving the executive team free to deliver a return on expansion investment as quickly as possible.”
A business will need to consider the most appropriate structure for their UK operations, and that usually means a limited company.
“It is quick to set up and provides the parent company with some protection should things not progress as planned,” explains John. “It also makes compliance that much easier, for example registering with HMRC for VAT and tax.”
VAT can be a particularly complex issue for overseas businesses, particularly when trading internationally. “It is essential,” says John, “to get specialist advice from your accountant.”
Employment is often an issue for UK subsidiaries of overseas companies, and John recommends appointing specialist HR consultants.
“Our employment laws are strict and often very different from other jurisdictions,” says John. “HR specialists can advise on both the compliance matters, payroll, pension auto-enrolment, and any staff benefits and incentive schemes.”
And Hillier Hopkins is the perfect partner. It offers international businesses the range of experienced specialist services they will need, such as strategy and structuring, company formation and secretarial, VAT, payroll, personal and corporate tax advice, bookkeeping and management accounts, statutory accounts and audit.
“But it is the very human skills that set Hillier Hopkins apart,” explains John. “Regular contact, the right expertise and accessibility are the reasons many overseas business appoint and stay with our firm.”
For more information visit www.hillierhopkins.co.uk