Skip to main content

Bridging the Brexit gap

As our nearest neighbour prepares to finally leave the EU, having the right strategy for doing business in the UK has never been more important.

Our fortunes may not be as closely linked as they used to be, but Irish companies still sold more than one and a quarter billion euros worth of merchandise into the UK in August (compared to €4.85 billion for the whole of the EU).

There are many useful sources of information on trading in the UK. The British Irish Chamber of Commerce is a good starting point, as is the UK Department for International Trade in the British Embassy in Dublin. Support is also available from state agencies such as Bord Bia, InterTrade Ireland, Local Enterprise Offices and Enterprise Ireland as well as the Irish Exporters Association and the Irish International Business Network.

Which set-up is best?

Once you have decided to take the plunge, you need to decide on the best way of operating in the UK. For a small enterprise it might be prudent to start by appointing a sales agent or a distributor – signing up customers can be a time consuming process if you are still developing your business at home and this approach will allow you to test the market before employing a direct sales resource on the ground.

Partnerships are another option, particularly if you are struggling to find an agent. Finding the right partner requires plenty of due diligence (including checking customer references as well as credit history), but they can help you build sales while keeping your costs down.

An established company might be better served establishing a UK-registered company or acquiring an established company, which might help you avoid any future trading restrictions.

Do your research

The legal systems in Ireland and the UK have many similarities, but it is important to familiarise yourself with variations in commercial law. It would also make sense to have contracts reviewed by a lawyer with a good understanding of UK commercial law and to engage a local legal representative to deal with UK contract work.

There will be some sectors where regulations remain largely unchanged after Brexit, but you have to prepare for the possibility that the UK will introduce new regulations for some types of business that may be very different to what you are used to at home.

Any Irish company looking to set up a new operation in the UK would need to be aware that profits made in the UK would be taxed at the local rate rather than the rate paid by the company in Ireland. Tax treatment may be different for a business trading through an agent than a UK-registered company.

Protect your bottom line

If you are going to buy and sell in both euro and sterling, currency hedging will help mitigate the impact of volatility between the two currencies. It may also make sense to start small by targeting a region of the UK rather than the whole market.

Regardless of the approach you take to expanding your enterprise you will need to know how this part of your business is performing financially. A cloud-based accounting solution such as Big Red Cloud will give you an up-to-date view of income and expenditure.

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

This site is registered on as a development site. Switch to a production site key to remove this banner.