Tag: UK

The great escape: demand for £200 000 visas soars

A growing group of South Africans are increasingly eyeing obtaining the UK’s £200 000 Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa as political and economic woes continue to pummel their homeland.

This is according to Gary Kockott, MD for SA at Sable International, who says he’s seen an uptick in local demand for the visa. The visa offers a way for entrepreneurs to invest their way to citizenship in the UK for themselves and their families.

Q: Gary, SA is going through a turbulent time at the moment. Have you noticed an increase in clients coming to Sable International to enquire and seek UK business visas?

A: Absolutely. I think there’s a lot of individuals who are disillusioned at where we will be in the next few years. I think that with the rampant corruption, state capture, further downgrades, and our imminent recession, people are very disillusioned. So we’ve seen a big increase in client interest.

Q: Can you tell me about the UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa Investment Program that Sable International offers?

A: Yes. It’s a bespoke UK citizenship by investment program where, through a £200 000 investment into the UK, you can obtain UK residency for you and your family and ultimately citizenship – if all the requirements are met. In short, we match investor skills and experience with a range of pre-approved business investment opportunities whilst meeting the UK Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa qualifying criteria.

Q: You said it costs about £200 000?

A: Yes. That’s the capital investment you have to make into either a new or an existing UK business.

Q: How long is the visa valid for? You can basically qualify for UK citizenship afterwards, so can your whole family then also qualify for that?

A: Yes, absolutely. You can take your entire family, as long as they are dependents, with you. Your initial visa is granted for 3 years and 2 months, at which stage you would extend. If you meet those requirements, that extension is to 5 years. You then get indefinite leave to remain and once you’ve been a permanent resident for 5 years and you’ve held your indefinite leave to remain for 12 months, you’re able to apply for citizenship.

Q: You said that Sable International matches up the applicants with businesses. Can you tell us a little bit more about how that process works?

A: We’ve partnered with a private equity firm and they specialise in obtaining foreign direct investment into the UK. They have a number of businesses – investee businesses – that are actively seeking foreign direct investment. What we then do (together with our partners) is we match an individual’s skills and their experience with those businesses’ needs, because you have to match your skills with the business in order to qualify for the visa.

Q: How easy or difficult is it to get this visa compared to other, similar European visas, for example?

A: My recommendation would be to use a skilled immigration advisor. You do have to jump through some hoops in order to achieve it as it’s not straightforward. You have to apply a genuine test etc., but if you meet the capital amount and you’ve got a decent advisor, you’ll be able to get your visa.

Q: What is the rationale from the UK side to dole out visas like this? What is their main motivation behind it?

A: They’re looking for foreign direct investment into the United Kingdom, so they have a number of different Tier 1 investor visas, of which the entrepreneur visa is one of them.

Q: Is this one way in which the UK brings in a lot of foreign expertise, despite the advent of Brexit?

A: Absolutely, they’re bringing in the investment and they’re bringing in the skills.

Q: What has the reception been like from South African citizens?

A: The interest has been big. This visa has been around for quite some time, since 2008, but in the last few months the last 8 or 9 months, given our political climate and our economic instability, there’s been a huge increase in interest across all our visa categories. Generally, people are looking to emigrate.

Q: Can you maybe tell me about some of your other visa categories as well then?

A: Obviously within the Tier 1 category there’s the entrepreneur visa, there’s also the investment visa or the investor visa, that’s more of a passive opportunity where you invest £2m into the UK, that’s into a UK bank account which you then invest into UK government bonds loan capital or share capital and you are able to go over. The visa is granted for 5 years and you are able to go, live and work in the UK with your family. Then, there are a whole bunch of other categories. e.g. Married partner visas, ancestry visas, and other types of immigration visas.

Q: For our readers out there who are interested in obtaining one of these visas, what kind of advice would you give them, just in terms of going about this process?

A: Well, all of these services you can do yourself but my recommendation is if you are serious about emigrating, you get the right advice. Whether it’s through us or through other emigration advisors. getting the right advice of which category to go through and how to achieve it is the best way forward.

Q: Once an applicant is through to the other side in the UK, do you at Sable International still keep in touch with them? How does that work?

A: Absolutely, so we assist throughout the process. When we do the entrepreneur visa for example, as far as we’re concerned we’re in the process with you for the 6 years, until you get your citizenship. So we’re able to advise you, do all your extensions for you, we’ll ensure that you meet the various requirements in obtaining those extensions so that you’ll eventually get your citizenship.

Q: Gary, and just looking at this year so far, can you maybe give me numbers on how many people have approached you to date or how many you’re expecting to approach you regarding business visas for the UK?

A: Yes, I’m probably getting between 5 and 10 interested clients a week but it’s a long sale cycle, the individuals take a bit of time to make the decision. It’s a very big decision, emigrating, a lot of these guys are having to sell up their assets, if they’re emigrating permanently because of the fee of £200 000, which is about R3.5m in today’s money, so a lot of people are selling up in order to do that. the interest is massive and it’s also massive in terms of individuals looking to take their wealth offshore, and looking for second citizenships.

Q: Talking about second citizenships, so once you’ve perhaps got one of these visas and you get UK citizenship ultimately, can you still hang onto your South African citizenship then? How does that process work?

A: Yes, as long as you do it in the right manner, so you have to notify the South African government that you’re applying for UK citizenship. We (South Africans) are allowed to hold dual citizenship, so you certainly are able to keep your South African citizenship and take on the UK citizenship, as long as you go through the right process beforehand, before you make the application.

Q: Gary, and looking at visas like this. Is it a key strategy of Sable International’s? How does this fit into your broader business strategy?

A: Absolutely, we assist individuals who want to internationalise themselves, their wealth, or their businesses, so we’re constantly looking at ways in which we can assist individuals, who are looking to get second citizenships or emigrate or move, particularly to the United Kingdom or Australia. Putting together this program was just one of those bespoke options in being able to assist our clients better.

Q: Gary, it’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you today. Thanks very much for giving us more information on this.

A: Not a problem. Thanks very much, Gareth, I appreciate your time.

By Gareth van Zyl for BizNews 

Amazon Business launches in the UK

Amazon is adding a trade counter to its UK Web site to sell equipment such as office supplies and industrial tools to woo business customers that account for around two-fifths of online spending.

Its new service called Amazon Business launched on Monday, and offers a range of business-friendly features like being able to track purchases and set spending limits, as well as an expanded range of products specifically targeted at commercial customers.

Amazon Business will sell more than 100-million products spanning laptops to test tubes to cleaning products, and is targeted at a range of businesses, from small to large, as well as universities and charities.

It marks the latest effort by the e-commerce giant to expand beyond the typical retail business. Jeff Bezos’ firm had already started its business marketplace in the US back in April 2015, racking up $1bn (£800m) of sales in its first year to 400 000 customers, before launching in Germany four months ago.

The UK online market for business-to-business sales was valued at a cool £96.5bn for 2015 by the Office for National Statistics.

Bill Burkland, head of Amazon Business UK, said the new site “combines more than 100m business products with a new set of unique business features – from reporting and analytics to spending limits”.

In February, the online giant said it was creating 5,000 new full-time jobs in the UK this year to fill a range of positions from software developers to warehouse staff.

The recruitment will take Amazon’s UK headcount to more than 24,000 as it opens three new warehouses in Tilbury, Doncaster and Daventry. The extra space will also handle deliveries for third-party retailers who sell through Amazon’s site.

By Rebecca Smith for www.cityam.com

Staples’ 106 UK stores are being renamed Office Outlet by new-owner Hilco Capital, which snapped up the retailer last year for a nominal sum.

The restructuring firm, which also owns entertainment specialist HMV, said the Staples estate would be transformed in “record time”.

The entire rebadging process, along with the installation of a new EPOS system, is due to be completed by the end of this week.

“The reality is we’re kicking everything off very quickly and then we’ll be refining the proposition in the weeks to come with an improved product mix and much better pricing and promotions,” Hilco Capital marketing director Matt Bone told Retail Week.

The fresh branding on the newly named Office Outlet stores – which are largely located in out-of-town retail parks – is in keeping with Staples’ traditional red and white colour scheme.

The US-based stationery specialist agreed to sell its UK retail business and operations, which employs 1 100 people, to Hilco Capital last November.

Staples Inc says the decision was taken in order to place greater focus on its North American and mid-market divisions.

Last year, the business was pushed into exploring “strategic alternatives” for its European operations after it was forced to shelve a $6bn (£4.53bn) merger with rival Office Depot by America’s competition authorities.

Staples Inc consequently assessed the future of its European arm as it sought to wipe $300m (£226m) from its annual cost base.

When the deal to sell its British business to Hilco completed last November, its new owners unveiled plans to “phase out” the Staples brand in the UK, but provided no further details as to what that strategy looked like.

At the time, Hilco Capital chairman Paul McGowan said: “While retail in the UK has been challenged recently, a team led by retail veteran Alan Gaynor will work alongside the existing management team to build a plan for success for the business.”

By Emily Hardy and Luke Tugby for www.retail-week.com

Stationery set to grow in the UK

The UK stationery market is set to rise by 2,4% in five years, from £2,06-billion in 2016 to around £2,1-billion by 2021, according to new research.

Analyst firm Verdict Retail’s latest report states that this growth will be driven by the rising trend of purchasing stationery as gifts, increased product ranges, and design-led products and innovation.

The firm said new entrants such as Smiggle from Australia and the impending arrival of Typo, another Australian stationery retailer, have made the stationery sector more competitive.

“Low entry barriers have enabled new market entrants to experiment with product design, which has triggered increased interest in stationery, particularly among those aged 16-24,” says associate analyst Sarah Johns.

“Increased product choice of premium stationery and availability of extra services such as personalisation mean shoppers are increasingly opting for stationery products as gifts.

“UK retailers are benefitting from shoppers who purchase stationery for a variety of occasions. For example, stationery is bought for children for the back-to-school period, for seasonal holidays such as Christmas, and for other occasions such as birthdays and Mother’s Day.”

A survey conducted by Verdict Retail found that 57,4% of stationery shoppers were female, while 9,7% of stationery shoppers surveyed bought stationery online.

Meanwhile in the last five years, drawing instruments and accessories became the fastest growing categories and will continue to dominate in the next five.

However, growth of the paper and notepad, storage and other stationery categories slowed in terms of value and volumes in the negative, with expectations it would continue to decline in the next five years.

Verdict Retail says one of the main reasons for this fall in sales is the ongoing digitisation and the rise in ownership and usage of technological devices, meaning stationery is being used less and does not need to be replaced as frequently as it did a decade ago.

By Elias Jahshan for www.retailgazette.co.uk

Staples considering UK exit

It continues to be rough going for Staples after its failed merger with Office Depot.

The office supplier is considering shuttering its 107 stores in the United Kingdom as part of a larger evaluation of its European strategy in the wake of the failed merger and the UK.’s decision to leave the European Union, according to a report in the British newspaper The Telegraph.

The company has 259 stores in Europe, including the UK. locations, and as with its stores in the US. has fought challenges in the face of a changing retail world that leads consumers and businesses to shop online. A recent restructuring helped return the company’s UK. operations to being profitable, but the recent turmoil that has resulted from the ‘Brexit’ vote and the uncertainty about the economic fallout raises questions about the turnaround’s sustainability.

Staples was considering shutting its UK. stores even before Brexit, but the vote to leave the EU hurt the case to keep them open. On Tuesday the British pound hit another 31-year low, falling 1.3% to $1.3139, which erodes the profits of US. companies doing business in the country.

According to the report, Staples is considering a sale of its UK. stores, but the poor locations of the stores may make them unappealing to potential buyers.

This comes as the company is trying to reposition itself in the US. after a federal judge in early May blocked Staples’ planned merger with Office Depot. Last month the company announced it would be rolling out a new same-day delivery option to customers in a variety of cities– including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago — in a bid to keep up with the new consumer trend spearheaded by Amazon and Google.

“After the proposed acquisition was blocked, on May 10, 2016, Staples announced we are exploring strategic alternatives for our European operations,” Staples spokesman Bill Durling said in a statement. “This will allow the company to sharpen our focus and more aggressively pursue our mid-market growth strategy in North America, while right sizing our retail business. While this process remains on track, we have no additional details to share at this time.”

Staples’ shares were down 3,5% to $8.53.

By Eli Blumenthal for www.usatoday.com

SA on terror alert

The British government has joined the United States in voicing concerns over threats of terrorist attacks against foreigners in shopping areas around South Africa.

The United States embassy in Pretoria issued a similar advisory at the weekend.

“There is a high threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners such as shopping areas in Johannesburg and Cape Town,” the British government said in a statement posted on its Web site.

The government on Monday sought to allay fears after Washington warned Americans of a possibly imminent terror attack by Islamic extremists in the country’s major cities.

“We remain a strong and stable democratic country and there is no immediate danger,” State Security Minister David Mahlobo said in a statement.

The US on Saturday said it had received information that terrorist groups were planning to carry out attacks in SA during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The warning said attacks may target sites frequented by US citizens, including high-end shopping areas and malls in the economic hub of Johannesburg and Cape Town.

It came against the background of the Islamic State’s “public call for its adherents to carry out terrorist attacks globally during the upcoming month of Ramadan”, the US embassy in SA said.

Source: www.bdlive.co.za

A £500m logistics development that promises to create 5 000 jobs in South Yorkshire has taken a major step forward after securing its first tenant.

Fellowes, a US office supplies manufacturer, has signed a deal to move its UK headquarters into the first speculatively-built warehouse at Doncaster’s iPort.

The global manufacturer of air purification machines, office business machines, record storage and office accessories has taken unit IP2b, as its new UK headquarters and EU shared service building.

Fellowes is moving from its existing building at nearby West Moor Park in November. Verdion is developing iPort on a 337-acre site at Rossington.

The rail interchange will comprise 6m sq ft of warehouses handling shipping containers on trains from major UK ports and the Channel Tunnel.

The development will relieve pressure on congested coastal ports and speed up delivery.

The site is also linked with Junction 3 of the M18 via the Great Yorkshire Way which opened in February.

Michel van Beek, president of Fellowes EMEA and Asia, says: “This move will offer many advantages including excellent links to the UK rail and road network. It will offer Fellowes the opportunity to create a more modern and efficient workplace supportive to our future business needs and aspirations.”
Source: www.thestar.co.uk

Italy-based stationery group FILA has said growing its sales in the UK is one of the key reasons for acquiring fine art materials vendor Daler-Rowney.

FILA has paid almost €81-million ($90-million) for Daler-Rowney, the Berkshire-based firm which can trace its roots back to 1763.

Daler-Rowney – one of the largest fine art products manufacturers in the world – has annual sales of around £60-million ($85-million), while EBITDA for the 2014 financial year was about £4,5-million. Private equity firm Electra had a 41% stake in Daler-Rowney.

FILA opened a subsidiary in the UK five years ago, but has struggled to make a major impact in the market, achieving annual sales of around €4-million but lacking a strong presence in the retail sector.

During a conference call to explain the transaction, FILA said that Daler-Rowney’s distribution into the UK retail channel – with customers such as Hobbycarft – presented a good opportunity for FILA’s products. Taking Hobbycraft as an example, FILA said there was potential to grow sales tenfold.

FILA added there was also sales synergy opportunities in the US, where FILA acquired the iconic Dixon Ticonderoga brand in 2005. These include improving margins with large customers such as Walmart.

The deal is not good news for Daler-Rowney’s distribution partners. The firm distributes its products in about 70 countries, and FILA said it would integrate sales into its own network, something which is expected to take around six months.

FILA has been increasing its presence in the art and craft sector since it set up a joint venture with fellow Italian firm Maimeri in 2014. It’s a segment that it sees as digitisation-proof and said that the Daler-Rowney acquisition was another step into its diversification into this area.

FILA operates through 11 production facilities and 19 subsidiaries around the world, has annual sales of around €230-million and employs 5 000 people.

By Andy Braithwaite for OPI.net

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