RUSSELL DALGLEISH urges businesses to hook into one of the biggest markets on their doorstop
It’s almost a year since I was last in London. A city I have typically worked from on a weekly basis for most of the last 20 years. And with the roadmap out of lockdown in England now published it’s time to start thinking about returning. Not today, but soon. If you are unfamiliar with doing business in the city you might be considering focusing your efforts instead at home in Scotland. London you may suggest is expensive, complex and you don’t have a rich contact base there.
But I would urge you to consider including London in any growth strategy you are planning. If you are hesitant about this then drop me a note and I will introduce you to Scottish companies experiencing success in London.
Forbes magazine last year listed London as the fifth richest city on earth and it’s my bet that there will never be a better time to hunt out opportunities and make a beach head in London than this year.
The three largest sectors in London can be grouped as Technology (including Fintech), Finance and Professional Services.
The Resonance Consultancy each year publishes a report on the world’s 100 best performing cities. London came out as Number One for the fifth year in a row and is called “the capital of capitals”. Incidentally, Glasgow was 96th and Edinburgh didn’t make the top 100.
In the highly respected Kearney index of top Global Cities London ranked second behind New York and first in terms of investment.
And in the annual KPMG Technology Innovation Hubs report (which excludes Silicon Valley) London was placed 2nd behind Singapore.
But why London now?
Well for one thing, it’s on our doorstep. An hour by plane, four hours by train but also there is now a clear understanding from London based companies I have spoken with that they no longer view it to be necessary that the supplier is based locally. Zoom, Teams et al, have changed that. This is tremendous news for Scotland-based companies which can bring their innovation, creativity and value-based products and services to this market.
The effect of lockdown has been to shakeup the London market in terms of supply chain and use of technology, and it has highlighted the need for new business models. Therefore, it’s an excellent time for new players to enter the market and secure those precious initial clients. There are a multitude of reports and thought pieces on how the London market will develop but there is a clear understanding that it will change. And change means opportunity.
When I speak to non-London based companies and ask them why they look to secure clients in the city they will all answer with two words: “increased margin”. Simply due to the nature of the market in London it is possible to secure better margins there. Don’t simply plan to charge the same for your service in London as you would in Scotland because you must consider the value you are delivering and how this translates into cash for your clients.
We are still all coming to terms with the effects of Brexit but one thing must be clear. The spend that was decided from Brussels when we were part of the European Union will now be made from within the UK and undoubtedly the final decision for much of this will inevitablly be based in London, the seat of power.
Entering any new market can be tough and London is indeed a highly complex market. But today there is a network of supporters available to Scottish companies through our diaspora. Senior individuals working in every sector from technology to film and food to finance. There are Scots with years of experience in the city willing and available to help you. The ability to share experience, open doors and provide insight is priceless.
If you would like to hear more about the opportunities in London, and to hear first hand from fellow Scots driving their business in the city then be sure to join us on 18 March for the inaugural Scottish Business Network London Conference delivered in partnership with London Scottish House.
Russell Dalgleish is the co-founder and chairman of Scottish Business Network and writes a weekly column for Daily Business