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Close ties with Germany drive opportunities

Hamburg-based Petra Owen, Associate Partner at Hansa Partner, is an expert in international business and tax and her firm is a member of BKR International. Here she gives her tips on doing business in Germany.

Just an hour away from the UK by air, Germany offers easy access to Central and Eastern Europe. English is widely spoken and accepted as a business language.

We have a strong domestic consumer market and resilient economy and strong trading links with the UK already exist.

With high employment and  job security, above-inflation pay hikes and low borrowing costs, the German economy is becoming increasingly consumer-led, with household spending now the main source of growth.

British brands generally do well in Germany. UK design quirkiness is popular, and any brands with personality, quality, character and eccentricity stand a very good chance. ‘Cool Britannia’ sells!

The demand for British niche food, drink and confectionary products should also not be underestimated – 80 per cent of customers in shops selling UK food are not expats but Germans.

Hamburg may be particularly attractive to UK firms. It is often said to be the most Anglophile city in Germany - the oldest Anglican Church on the continent is right in the heart of the city - and business relations between Hamburg and Britain stretch back to 1266. It is a valued relationship.

The biggest tip I can give to UK companies thinking about doing business here is to do some thorough market research in advance, as there can be substantial regional differences in infrastructure, demand and supplier structures.

Also be patient and persistent. Make sure you know the market and your potential customers. Try and get local support from an early stage.

As in any country tax authorities can be difficult to deal with, and there is, unfortunately, still a certain amount of red tape. Official language for all paperwork is German. With a bit of help, however, this can be easily dealt with. There’s no challenge that cannot be overcome!

This article was first published in the May / June 2018 edition of Lancashire Business View magazine.

Cassons, part of the Baldwins group,  are a member of BKR International, a leading global association of accounting firms, and work with firms across the globe to assist businesses with international trade.

 

16 Jul 18
Petra Owen, Associate Partner, Hansa Partner, Germany