Considerations for any foreign business expanding from Hong Kong into a London base.
Is it best to buy, sell or lease?
If your business is already well established in Hong Kong, you will probably want to make a real splash in establishing a central London presence.
Unless you are prepared to make a major investment, buying a freehold building is probably out of the question. Serviced offices could provide you with maximum flexibility, allowing you time to get to know a locality if there was still any doubt in your mind where you wanted to be. Arrangements can be put in place for as short or as long a period as you require. However, serviced offices will not provide a presence or any splash as there will be limited opportunity to stamp your brand on the premises and announce your presence in the London market.
As you have already established where you want to be, leasehold premises will be able to deliver what you want; namely premises in central London, which will give you a presence with some investment, but with a permanence that your company requires to fuel its continued expansion into the UK. Some further flexibility can also be built in by way of a break clause after a period of time, say two to three years, to hedge against further expansion.
This article by Karen Mason originally appeared in the Financial Times Business Questions in June 2014.