Archive

Tag Archives: Business development

The British Chamber of Commerce works with a broad range of Accredited Service Providers to bring you the best professional advice for international businesses who are in or entering the Belgian market. This series aims to give you a bit of an insight into these companies; showcasing how they can help you develop your business. British Chamber members can book a free first consultation with any of our expert advisors.

This week, our team spoke to Karelle Lambert – Senior Area Director for Europe at AWEX; the Wallonia Export & Investment Agency.

What are the top-4 questions companies looking to do business in Belgium should be asking?

 1. Why Belgium?

Belgium offers a market of 10 million consumers but our country should be considered as a launching platform for your export activities in Continental Europe.  Indeed, within 4 hour truck drive, you may reach 60 million consumers with a high purchasing power.

Belgium is a perfect assessment market. Belgium is often used a test market by large companies, such as Coca Cola or H&M, to test new products.   Considered as neutral, Belgium is the perfect location to reach European key markets.

2. What is the corporate tax level?

Nominative corporate tax level in Belgium is 33,99%.  However, due to numerous tax incentive measures, the average effective corporate tax level is  26,3%.

3. What is the availability and cost of real estate and labour force?

Belgium benefits from a cost-effective office and industrial areas market.  Belgium offers among the lowest prices in real estate in Europe.  The same trend applies for industrial building as well as for equipped greenfield lands in economic parks.  Availability of office, existing facilities and large greenfield plots is high in Belgium.

Prime education and the use of languages makes Belgium the perfect place to develop your international activities. Belgian universities and management schools, among the top worldwide ranking, offer high quality graduates on the market.

The Belgian Government has taken several measures in order to stimulate business environment:

The Tax Shift Law provides for a decrease of the employer social security contributions from 33% to 25%. Eurostat statistics already show that Belgium has a substantially lower rise of salary costs than the other countries.

As of the 1st of January 2016, the current reduction in social contributions related to first hirings were increased in two ways:

  • full exemption from employers’ contributions for the first hiring, unlimited in duration;
  • reduction in contributions for the six first hirings.

What is one emerging trend in the business/regulatory environment which you would advise companies in/entering Belgium to be particularly proactive about?

The business environment in Wallonia is enhanced through the new Marshall Plan 4.0 aiming at:

  • Considering Human capital as an asset and strengthening links between training and education,
  • Supporting the industry development, in a technological proactive perspective, including ever more and better SME’s,
  • Considering our territory as an essential resource for our economic development,
  • Supporting energy efficiency,
  • Supporting the digital innovation, integrating this new dimension within social and industrial practices.

Wallonia decided to strengthen its industrial policy and economic development through a clustering approach.  The Competitiveness clusters confirm the willingness to turn Wallonia into a competitive industrial area on a world-wide scale.  The clusters cover areas such as Transport & Logistics, Aeronautics & Aerospace, Sustainable & Eco construction, Green technologies, Energy & Sustainable development, Health & Biotech, Agro-food industry, ICT, Mechanical Engineering, Plastics processing, Digital industry.

Why is it important for new entrants in Belgium to speak with you?

Wallonia Export & Investment is the governmental organization taking care of Foreign Investors and we assure you of our total commitment to help you in your enquiries and steps to set up or develop in Belgium – Wallonia.  We may help you on different aspects including the search of real estate, information on the cash grants available in the Region, availability and costs of personnel, etc.  In short, investment and R&D grants, attractive fiscal measures, employment incentives are all available.  At any time, we may organize visits locally and have you meet key partners for your project. All our services are free of charge and treated confidentially.

If you’d like to organise a meeting with any of our Accredited Service Providers, or are interested in becoming one, get in touch with James Pearson – our Business & Trade Executive at james.pearson@britishchamber.be

London Visit report - Mandelson

This week, James Pearson – Business and Trade Executive at the British Chamber gives us a report of the goings on at this year’s London Visit at the start of the month. The Visit included keynote speeches from Lord Mandelson and Ken Clarke MP!

On 9 and 10 November, the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium brought a delegation of members over to the UK for our first annual London Visit. With the outstanding support of our official Knowledge Partner, FleishmanHillard UK, we had a full two-day programme lined up with promising topics and speakers, and it did not disappoint.

Members were warmly welcomed by Jim Donaldson, Senior Partner & Managing Director of FleishmanHillard UK. Our first session was with the Rt Hon Lord Peter Mandelson who presented an overview of the future of Europe. He covered his top three areas of concern for Europe and the activities of the newly formed Britain Stronger in Europe. Mandelson looked at the pitfalls the current government could fall into during the campaign and also the impact that media have had and will have in the future.

We were hosted for lunch in the Houses of Parliament by the often candid Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke MP, who engaged in a frank discussion about the internal politics facing the Conservative Party as we begin the long run up to the UK Referendum. The need for rational arguments versus emotional messaging to reach voters came across from the delegates and the speaker in order to shape the debate with the general public. After lunch, we had a tour of the House of Lords and subsequent introduction to the life of a parliamentarian, hosted by Mark Pawsey MP.

Our pre-dinner panel debate, chaired by Sir John Grant, involved voices from both sides of the referendum aisle: Alex Story (Business for Britain) and David Henderson (Business for New Europe) with their top three arguments for their own case. Not a topic to finish in an hour, this spilled into the dinner where journalist and guest speaker Julia Hartley-Brewer kept the conversation alive with personal and often highly entertaining observations about the UK debate and some of the key political figures involved.

The visit’s second day, hosted by FleishmanHillard at their brand new Bankside offices, started with a broader overview of the political landscape in the UK, with James Frayne from Policy Exchange. The referendum issue still a natural part of this conversation, including a discussion on the ideal versus realistic timing of holding the referendum, the session also covered power devolution to UK cities and regional autonomy, public finances, and digital business trends. Frayne’s remarks neatly bridged the Westminster-focused first day with the second day’s more tech-focused programme.

We then heard from Guy Levin (Coalition for a Digital Economy) and David Blake (Tech.London), who spoke about digital economy trends. This included a discussion on whether companies built for success in the 20th century would still be able to make it in the 21st century, and an analysis of the increasingly harder-fought battle for customer interface. The session further touched on the current and desired support for tech start-ups from Westminster, including whether tax breaks actually work as an incentive for fostering successful entrepreneurs. Finally, Guy and David discussed what cities need to do to emulate London’s success as a tech start-up hub and the need for sector specialization at a city level.

After lunch, we went into a discussion on longer and better living with Diarmaid Crean from Public Health England and Daniel Ryan from Swiss Re. From the perspective of a public health organisation and an insurance company, respectively, they gave us fascinating insights into the digital tools being developed and adopted to incentivise consumer behaviour towards healthier living. They discussed the importance of gamification, quality control issues with third-party mobile apps, and to what extent consumer data protection versus full data accessibility for organisations works in favour of the consumer.

Our final session was on future cities. Ben Lucas from the City Growth Commission presented interesting cases of UK cities who have become smarter in different way, and how cities who would previously have considered themselves fierce rivals have come together to cooperate over urban development initiatives. Ian Mihajlovic from Thriev gave us a tech start-up perspective from a business aiming to change city mobility through the UK’s first all-electric chauffeured service, while Joe Dignan from the Future Cities Catapult introduced us to the work of this government-supported centre aiming to develop smarter cities. The discussion focused on city case studies and what incentives drive cities to become smarter, as well as more macro-level structural issues to be addressed, e.g. skills gaps and labour market economics. The session closed on the note that cities are now more dominant than ever and that this trend will only continue in the years to come.

We then closed the London Visit programme with a reception on FleishmanHillard’s rooftop terrace with spectacular views of the London skyline.

From the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium, we would like to thank all the speakers for their stimulating and though-provoking contributions, and the delegates for their highly engaged participation in the discussions. Last but certainly not least, we want to thank FleishmanHillard UK for their great hospitality and support in pulling an excellent London Visit programme together.

Stay tuned for updates on our 2016 visit plans!

Golden Bridge

With the announcement of this year’s Golden Bridge awards fast approaching, we’re providing a last look at the candidates before the awards ceremony in London next week. The awards recognise the achievements of companies making the successful leap from the UK to the Belgian market and from the Belgium and Luxembourg markets to the UK.

Please provide a short history of your business in the UK (including why you chose to enter the UK market at the time you did):

At a time when consulting firms felt the brunt of the crisis – with profits under pressure and external consultant spending slashed – Projective continued expanding internationally with an office in London. With London being one of the world’s leading financial centres, it was a logical step to expand into the UK market, given that Projective specializes in delivering project and program management services to the financial services industry only. Projective entered the UK market in 2011. In 2015, the London staff grew from 12 to 25 full-time employees. The UK activity started as an extension of the work in Belgium, but it immediately became clear that the large market and the well-conceived Projective brand created more opportunities. We currently provide services to many tier 1 global banks and global insurers in the UK. We have proven to have a sustainable business model in a very difficult market and want to further grow this in the future. Projective has the ambition to further expand in the UK to cope with the increasing client demand, so attracting top quality resources remains key.

What are your future plans for business development in the UK?

We want to attract more resources to better serve clients and guarantee a 100% match with the client demand. The strategy to do that is twofold: Job site and CSR. Projective has been working on a job site for the last months. This career site is one for all Projective offices, and special attention has been given to a ‘UK touch’. On the career site, extra focus has been paid to diversity, a major cultural difference between the UK and the continent. This is a key element in attracting the right profiles and working on your employer brand.

Corporate social responsibility through actual business practices, ‘extracurricular’ activities such as charitable donations, or staff volunteering projects, is much more important in the UK. In Belgium, Projective set up a partnership with ‘Plan België’, an independent child NGO. Instead of just transferring money, Projective assisted Plan België with their finance transparency charter, which enabled them to raise more funds. For the general brand awareness, Projective is looking for similar projects in the UK.

Why are you applying for the Golden Bridge Awards, and why do you think you should win?

Projective is a niche player providing top quality services. On average, our project managers can draw on more than ten years of experience. This provides us with the confidence to address the challenges and demands of the marketplace regardless of complexity or scale. We are not a ‘traditional consulting company’. We remain entirely neutral and independent, while delivering the client’s agenda by working seamlessly with multi-disciplinary, multi-vendor, mixed resource teams.

Our flat organisational structure encourages all employees to build and grow themselves and Projective as a company, by getting involved in areas such as marketing, HR, finance or IT support. This means that the team is continuously stimulated and highly motivated, and this certainly contributes to the company’s success. We have a team-based approach where we share our experiences and collaborate to address our client’s challenges.

Projective has grown substantially in the UK over the past 4 years. The UK market is now the second most important market for our company. For our staff, the award would be an acknowledgement of the hard work that they have put into growing the company in the UK and for our clients, proof of their trust and confidence in Projective.

The Golden Bridge Awards will provide recognition of our success in the UK and enables us to enhance our image in both Belgium and the UK.

Join us at the 2015 Golden Bridge Trade & Export Awards to celebrate the best of Belgian, Luxembourg and British business. The awards, now in their 19th year, aim to promote trade between the UK and the Belux countries, and to promote the best and brightest in this dynamic and growing market. The awards will be hosted at a gala dinner in London on 26 November at the BLCC Clubhouse Ballroom. You can register for the event here! Don’t forget that for those travelling to London from the continent, an exclusive Eurostar discount is available. Please contact events@blcc.co.uk for details of how to book.

Golden Bridge

With the announcement of this year’s Golden Bridge awards fast approaching, we’re providing a last look at the candidates before the awards ceremony in London next week. The awards recognise the achievements of companies making the successful leap from the UK to the Belgian market and from the Belgium and Luxembourg markets to the UK. Here we take a look at NMC and talk about their move into the UK market.

Can you tell us a bit about what your company does?

NMC is an international leading company active in the development, production and marketing of synthetic foams. Founded in 1950, NMC develops, manufactures and markets synthetic foam products. Our more than 1200 worldwide associates strive to develop innovative, reliable, and high-quality products supported by a complete service package. NMC Group realizes an annual turnover of 200 million Euros and has 12 production units and 20 subsidiaries worldwide.

Can you please provide us with a short history of your business in the UK and why you chose to enter the UK market at the time you did?

In the mid 1970’s we established that there was a market for a quality, lightweight alternative to decorative plaster in the construction and painting and decorating sector. Plaster being heavy and fragile, was not easy to transport or install so we looked for a material that was easy to mould but was light and durable. In February 1977 we launched our first range of Polyurethane Decorative cornice and ceiling centres.

Did you have to make any adaptations to your products or services specifically for the UK market?

With information gathered from the above reports it was confirmed that the biggest usage for coving in the UK was the mass paperfaced Gyproc sector. In 2010 we developed and created a range of 3 profiles in 2 formats to capture a share of this market. It was also apparent that to sell our products in the UK the length of the products (normally 2m in Europe) would have to be increased to 2.4m and 3m to satisfy the professional trade in the UK.

What are your future plans for business development in the UK?

NMC UK supply all the major companies in our market field, (B&Q, Wickes, Screwfix, Toolstation, Akzo Nobel, Crown Paints, Homebase, The Range, Burberry) we aim to continue working with these companies forming long term partnerships, providing new products and services and the continuous improvement of those we already offer.

Join us at the 2015 Golden Bridge Trade & Export Awards to celebrate the best of Belgian, Luxembourg and British business. The awards, now in their 19th year, aim to promote trade between the UK and the Belux countries, and to promote the best and brightest in this dynamic and growing market. The awards will be hosted at a gala dinner in London on 26 November at the BLCC Clubhouse Ballroom. You can register for the event here! Don’t forget that for those travelling to London from the continent, an exclusive Eurostar discount is available. Please contact events@blcc.co.uk for details of how to book.

Golden Bridge

With the announcement of this year’s Golden Bridge awards fast approaching, we’re providing a last look at the candidates before the awards ceremony in London next week. The awards recognise the achievements of companies making the successful leap from the UK to the Belgian market and from the Belgium and Luxembourg markets to the UK.

Can you give us a bit of background as to where you company has come from? Why did you choose to join the UK market when you did?

Fenzi, an Italian private company and leader in chemicals for the flat glass processing industry, was already for a long time locally present on the UK market with sealants (glue for insulating glass) and coatings for glass (mirror backing coatings – decorative coatings for glass). This specific market, closely related to the building industry, showed in the UK a lot of challenges in growth for the last 5 years. Specific development of products to fulfill market needs, fast acting and quitting of a European supplier of the market granted Fenzi several opportunities. The synergy of these factors together with the growth of the UK building market resulted in Fenzi’s sales increase.

Was there any specific technical or market research that your company done on the UK market before entering?

Sealants and glass coatings are very technical based. Intense focusing on technical service and guarantee of constant quality were the main factors to increase Fenzi’s market shares in the UK. To encounter the UK market for sealants, we particularly focused on developing a high standard sealants range of products. Fast acting to pick up opportunities, when one of the competitors left the market, turned out in a quick volume increase of the sealants market.

What has been your marketing strategy in the UK over the last 3 years?

To position Fenzi in the market as a company that brings:

  • Market driven development, by offering cutting-edge products that meet the ever-shifting needs of the market with maximal focus on technical service.
  • Solid and long-term solutions.
  • Reliable in supply combined  with an emphasis on quality

And finally, why did you apply for the Golden Bridge Awards, and why do you think you should win?

The focus on tailor-made products in combination with providing good services created a gap with the competitors. Convincing customers to overcome their conservatism by switching to alternative solutions and product ranges, is one of the biggest challenges. We proved that in very competitive markets, keep on following a good strategy with performing products combined with intense client-contact results in a profitable business. Continuation of this strategy, results in building ‘golden sustainable bridges’ with our clients in every country all over the world! Our application for this award is based on our pride for this success story.  And this is only a starting point …

Join us at the 2015 Golden Bridge Trade & Export Awards to celebrate the best of Belgian, Luxembourg and British business. The awards, now in their 19th year, aim to promote trade between the UK and the Belux countries, and to promote the best and brightest in this dynamic and growing market. The awards will be hosted at a gala dinner in London on 26 November at the BLCC Clubhouse Ballroom. You can register for the event here! Don’t forget that for those travelling to London from the continent, an exclusive Eurostar discount is available. Please contact events@blcc.co.uk for details of how to book.

Although etiquette might seem relevant only to posh, old-fashioned, private school-type people, Melody Kissoon explained to us that etiquette, in all its shapes and forms, is still highly relevant today and particularly in the business sphere.

As she rightly mentioned, in any business relationship the aim is to sell something to someone, it could be a product or it could be yourself. It is therefore essential to make a great first impression and make the person opposite you feel at ease in your company.
And this, in a nutshell, is all etiquette is about: making people feel comfortable in your presence.
It is important to be able to adapt to any situation, to adjust to others way of functioning in order to put them at ease, but essentially to be more comfortable yourself knowing that you are wearing the right outfit and doing the right thing at the right time.
This is particularly relevant when dealing with a different culture, where it is advisable to get informed and to generally tone it down.

Of course, no Business etiquette conference would be complete without a check-list of things that one should/shouldn’t do in social situations. Quite sensible points in there, such as wearing moderate heels for the ladies, not drinking too much alcohol, and eating with your mouth closed.
But at the end of the day, whatever you say, however you dress, your personality and the way you behave yourself is what will shine through.

Overall, the conference was highly interactive and entertaining; with participants sharing anecdotes and asking tips for specific situations which gave it a relaxed and pleasant feel.
Unfortunately, we only got to see the tip of the iceberg. The perfect opportunity for a second session.

Topic of the discussion: Improving your professional presence 

Speaker: Ms Melody Kissoon, Etiquette consultant

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Francesca

%d bloggers like this: