A roadmap to setting up a new business in the UK

8 Aug 2020

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We have produced a guide to the key practical considerations for building a successful business in the UK, both for businesses expanding into the UK market from overseas and those starting from scratch.

We can assist with the set-up of a variety of business types, advising on everything from building a robust investment case through to employment-related issues. Here are some of the key considerations:

  1. Investment case
    Step one is establishing a strong investment case for entering the UK. You may want to prepare a business plan addressing critical aspects such as market opportunity, how the investment will be financed and the cash flow forecast. Entry strategy however will be key for initial investment financing forecasts.
    We help our clients with issues such as reviewing and road testing business plans, cash flow forecasting, risk and readiness assessments, also advising on financing.
  2. Entry strategy
    Your entry strategy into the UK market will be dependent on the opportunity and your risk appetite. The options range from establishing a contract with an import agency or UK distributor, joint venture with an established UK business, through to mergers and acquisitions. You will need to consider the strategic importance of the target market, the level of investment available and how strong the business case is. Taking advice early is key.
    We can advise on the tax implications of each strategy, and assist with mergers and acquisitions (M&A) due diligence.
  3. Corporate structure
    Depending on the needs of your business now and in the future, you will need to decide on a corporate structure. Each structure is different in terms of its set-up process, taxes, profit distribution and personal liability. Structures can also evolve and change as the business grows.
    We advise clients on the advantages and disadvantages of the business structures available and their reporting requirements. We also advise on UK and cross-border tax issues, including in relation to the movement of labour cross border, transfer pricing, repatriation of profits, funding, exit planning, VAT and holding company structures.
  4. Registration
    There are many ways of extending your business into the UK, but if you decide to operate via a limited company, you will need to establish a legal presence and notify the relevant authorities. A company can typically be incorporated with Companies House in 48 hours once all documents are filed. Alternatively, you may wish to register a UK place of business of an overseas company instead. The entity may be sent a taxpayer reference number and need to register for corporation tax within three months of starting to trade.
    We can help you register with Companies House, also register for corporation tax/PAYE and VAT, as necessary.
  5. Bank accounts
    You will need to open a UK bank account for your business if you wish to register for VAT. Opening a bank account is a time-consuming process as you will need to go through anti-money laundering procedures to ensure that your company is credible for a corporate bank account. Alternatively, some overseas businesses initially set up in the UK without opening a UK bank account.
    We can make introductions and assist with the application process.
  6. Employment
    A highly skilled workforce will be key to your success. When employing people in the UK you will need awareness of several regulations within UK employment law. If you are using your own staff from overseas in the UK you will need to consider the visa requirements.
    The issues we assist clients with include registering a business as an employer operating a PAYE scheme, reviewing employment arrangements, and advising on the personal tax implications for any staff seconded from overseas.
  7. Accountancy
    UK businesses are required to maintain accounting records. There are exceptions for some overseas companies registering a place of business in the UK.
    We work with clients to help them select and implement UK compliant accounting systems, select suitable accounting policies and can also provide outsourced bookkeeping assistance.

If you would like to discuss your options for setting up a business in the UK, please contact your usual Saffery Champness partner or E: [email protected]

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