On Tuesday 27th September we organised a session on “Best Practices on Construction and Opportunities in the UK” aimed at Spanish companies from the construction and infrastructure sectors and subsectors. The event was hosted at the premises of Blick Rothenberg, member of our Chamber.
This activity took place as part of an inward trade mission our institution had been organising in collaboration with Asturex to receive a delegation of Spanish companies from the above sectors. Thus, the event provided first-hand information on specific aspects related to their line of business, such as CIS (Construction Industry Scheme) requirements, insurance and health & safety procedures, or available opportunities in the country in the near future.
Jesús Agra, Foreign Trade Manager, and Cristina Carmona, Head of External Relations and Communications, were in attendance to represent the Spanish Chamber. Mr. Agra welcomed attendees on behalf of our institution and introduced the speakers for the session.
First in line were Simon Wagman, Partner, and Alex Altmann, Director, both from Blick Rothenberg. They covered whether the activities in the UK of a Spanish company create a permanent establishment, the status of their employees for tax purposes and how they need to register for VAT and the CIS. Also, both Simon and Alex highlighted the importance of receiving professional advice when it comes to tax obligations for foreign companies to avoid hefty fees due to lack of information.
After this, it was the turn of Alicia Ferrero, from the International Desk at Santander UK. She covered the range of financial services the bank can provide to foreign clients and briefly introduced the Santander Trade portal. This new tool is being currently improved to help Santander clients access market information in the countries the bank is present and, building-on this tool, the Santander Trade Club would allow companies to connect with other Santander clients.
After the coffee break, Dennis McGlynn, Investment Adviser at the Department for International Trade, took the floor. His presentation offered an overview of the main projects that are expected to be carried out by 2020 involving infrastructure and construction. His insights were particularly relevant as he presented specific projects already on the government agenda and which will generate new opportunities for companies in the next 5 years.
The last speaker of the session was David Lucas, Commercial Account Executive at Bluefin. During his presentation, he explained briefly key differences between Spain and the UK in terms of insurance policy. He highlighted the importance for Spanish companies to check the requirements made by British clients in the contract and whether it includes specific insurance clauses.
As David explained, quite often Spanish insurance is not sufficient to be fully covered against potential claims in the UK and thus the importance of ensuring the right coverage. He also touched on the recently approved Insurance Act (effective from August 2016) and Health & Safety procedures that companies must implement to comply with UK regulations.
To round up the session, we had two case studies from two Spanish companies from the sector and already established in the UK: Desamianta and López Landa. To begin with, Luis García, Operations Director, and Fernando Santiago, Business Development Manager, from Desamianta explained that despite being one of the leading companies in Spain in their area of expertise (asbestos removal), they faced a series of challenges, such as needing to get a licence to operate here as their Spanish one was not recognised.
To conclude, Guillermo Lázaro, Managing Director at López Landa Interiors, highlighted the importance of joining associations relevant to one’s sector as it works as a seal of approval for potential clients. As he explained, belonging to an association shows British clients that the company is here for the long-term. Creating trust is one of the main challenges for Spanish companies, he went on discussing, and one way to do so is by being part of the right networks, which potentially would lead them to projects.
The Q&A round that followed the case studies proved a fantastic opportunity to elaborate on the different topics previously covered during the morning. After a highly participative session, both speakers and attendees could engage in further conversation over a networking lunch that was served on the premises.
We would like to thank our members Bluefin, Desamianta, López Landa Interiors, and our Patron Santander for sharing such insightful and valuable information with the companies who were in attendance at this event, and especially our member Blick Rothenberg for kindly hosting this event at their premises.
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