Stay in South Africa while you expand your business into the UK

*This content is brought to you by Sable International. With offices in South Africa and the UK, Sable International can help you expand your business to the UK and beyond.

By Scott Brown*

As the economic and political situation in South Africa remains precarious, many local businesses are thinking of expanding into other markets to help diversify their operations and potentially their profits. Setting up a business in a foreign market is a fantastic way to grow your business outside the confines of South Africa and into the wide world.

The allure of the UK

A number of South African business owners are trying to find out the best way to internationally diversify their wealth without having to up sticks and leave the country. One of the most popular destinations for South African businesses looking to expand internationally is the UK.

A shared language, a business-friendly environment and excellent access to the world economy are just a few benefits of setting up shop in the UK. While this sounds like a good idea in principle, many business owner in South Africa are reluctant to move their families and themselves across the world.

Before you pack for Putney…

Moving can be an extremely stressful thing to do. If you’re planning on starting a new business venture or expanding an old one at the same time, this stress will be compounded. Not knowing local company rules and legislation could make things tough for you and your business. If you really want to make a success of your international expansion, you’re going to need a team on the ground in the UK that you can trust.

You don’t have to worry though, because these two hurdles can be overcome.

Having your cake and eating it

The first thing you need to realise is that you don’t have to move yourself with your business. You can continue to stay living in South Africa while your business expands into the UK. This gives you the benefit of being able to leave your family where they are and it means you can adopt a wait-and-see attitude to the situation in South Africa.

Pedestrians cross a foot bridge towards the offices of global financial institutions, including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the commercial office block No. 1 Canada Square, in the Canary Wharf financial, shopping and business district in London, U.K., on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

In order to do this successfully, you are either going to need to have expert knowledge of the UK business landscape, or you’re going to need to find someone who can help you. If you’re in need of some assistance, our business relocation experts can help.

We’ve been around for over twenty years, and during this time we’ve been helping South African businesses expand into the UK. We have offices in Cape Town, Johannesburg and London and over the years we’ve gained invaluable experience working with South African entrepreneurs looking to internationalise their businesses.

Our service helps you and your business:

  • With advice on your company structure
  • Open a UK business bank account
  • With bespoke financial advice via our wealth division
  • Deal effectively with HMRC (the UK tax authority)
  • As the official officer of your company in the UK
  • Make payments to international suppliers and receive payments from international clients
  • As your local finance arm while you stay in South Africa

Should you stay or should you go?

South Africa is certainly a mixed bag. The Republic has suffered ratings downgrades, negative growth, political instability and massive unemployment. It is prudent to think about hedging your bets when it comes to the economic future of South Africa, but it might be rash to move yourself, your family and your business, all at once, to a new country.

The Rand, somewhat counter-intuitively, has held tightly onto gains made at the start of 2017 and this allows businesses in South Africa to have more freedom at this point than many would have predicted just after the sacking of Pravin Gordhan earlier this year.

Now could be the perfect time for you and your business to start casting the net a bit wider and seeing what else the world can offer you and your business.

  • Scott Brown is Director of SME Accounting at Sable International.