A delegation from accounting firm HURST declared Manchester and the North West as the best alternative to London for European companies looking to mitigate the effects of Brexit on their operations.
HURST chief executive Tim Potter and partners Paul Brown and Simon Brownbill were invited to speak at a summit for Dutch firms held at the Rotterdam offices of global bank ING Group.
The event was held in conjunction with Visser & Visser, a Dutch practice which like HURST is a member of the PrimeGlobal international association of independent accountancy firms.
Representatives from around 30 Dutch firms attended, including IT, tourism and leisure companies, manufacturers and exporters.Its aim was to provide insights into doing business in the UK against the backdrop of Brexit.
On the event, Brownbill said: “Britain is the Netherlands’ second biggest trading partner after Germany, and there has been steady growth in trade between our countries over recent years.
“Many of those at the event were worried about Brexit’s impact on their businesses. While they felt Britain would be okay once we leave the EU, they were concerned about its effect on them.
“There seems to be a strong appetite among Dutch firms to invest in the UK, and they understand that it may be beneficial to accelerate their plans to set up a branch here as Brexit nears. Most businesses expect the Brexit negotiations to result in a free trade agreement that maintains the status quo between the UK and EU countries.
“However, if it all turns out differently and the borders go up, they may struggle to get goods in and out of the UK.”
The HURST trio said Manchester has plenty going for it, having been named as Europe’s third most influential city, the first for competitiveness, a top 10 location for connectivity and the best UK city in which to live.
They said that it is the best alternative to London for overseas companies seeking to mitigate the effects of Brexit by having a UK presence or expanding their network of trading partners.
Brownbill added: “With this in mind, companies should be meeting potential UK trading partners and exploring other kinds of business relationships relevant to their operations, for example in terms of distribution or setting up a branch in Britain.
“Our message was that Manchester and the north west are great places to set up. Some of those at the event already have a UK presence while others are considering it. As a firm we are receiving a lot of inquiries for businesses in a number of EU countries looking to establish a presence in the UK.
“We have a proud track record of helping them and continue to be active in this arena.”