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Serving customers from a UK base

21st Oct 2020
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What does 1 January 2021 mean for you? For British businesses which trade overseas it marks the turning point when the UK steps outside the EU single market and customs union. Scant wonder therefore that with, at the time of writing, just ten weeks to go the UK government is stepping up its ‘be prepared’ campaign.

Our article in August 2020 looked at the potential effect of the ending of the transition period on British businesses, with a recommendation that they focus on continuing to deliver high levels of service to their customer base; setting customer outcomes at the heart of every decision and process. But there is another dimension to be considered; the effect on overseas companies which look to continue to deliver great service to UK-based customers. Quite simply, once the UK stands alone can you best serve UK customers without a UK base?

In part the answer will depend on your business sector and of the outcome of ongoing negotiations. And yes thanks to the internet we do live and work in an increasingly globalised society. But sometimes having a local base can pay dividends in areas such as immediacy of service, local jurisdiction, and so on.

Set up a UK subsidiary

One option available to overseas companies could be to set up a UK subsidiary, perhaps with the assistance of the UK Government’s advisory network [1], formed to help overseas companies that wish to set up in the UK. Not only can the existence of a UK subsidiary help to provide assurance to customers that they are dealing with a UK company, it could also provide tax and regulatory benefits and open up access to sources of capital through the UK public markets. UK subsidiaries do have to abide by UK company law [2] both in terms of company formation and on an ongoing basis. This includes areas such as:

  • maintaining statutory registers,
  • relevant filings at Companies House,
  • compliance with data protection and anti-bribery legislation,
  • complying with employment law including pension auto enrolment regulations.

So yes UK-based subsidiaries do have to comply with UK regulations. But by doing so they can become closer to their customer base, working within a common legislative framework. In the process that shared experience could help organisations to develop a greater awareness of the challenges which their customers face. This in turn could help organisations to provide improved levels of customer service; developing solutions for UK customers by operating within a UK based framework.

[1]https://www.great.gov.uk/international/investment-support-directory/07707780/elemental/?q=elemental+cosec

[2]https://www.elementalcosec.com/guides/setting-up-a-uk-subsidary/

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