CHOOSING FRANCE FOR YOUR BUSINESS
The ABCs of setting up a business in France.
Whether you want to develop your business beyond your borders or simply want to reduce your dependence on a single market, the following tips may be useful for exporting your business to France.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself before taking the leap.
• What am I looking for?
By asking yourself this question, you will be able to decide which type of legal entity you should choose. Your choice will have legal, tax and of course, financial consequences.
If you are on a first uncommercial approach, then a liaison office seems the most appropriate. Requiring no legal personality of its own, no prior authorization of foreign investments and no obligation to register, this would be a perfect choice for an initial prospecting or advertising experience.
If, on the other hand, you are moving towards something more accomplished, with a real commercial activity, there are two routes which you may choose to take, each with its advantages and disadvantages.
Usually, we would present what is known as « la succursale » or branch(which does not require its own autonomy nor its own assets nor prior authorization for investment). Then, there is the option of a subsidiary, « la filiale », which is the most independent option (with its own legal personality, its own assets).You may also opt for a joint venture or a company takeover, but this list is of course not exhaustive.
• Are my products likely to be suitable for the market?
Before embarking on such a project, and especially if you are selling specific products, it is essential that you carry out a market study and analyses the information. A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, as you may know) market diagnosis will undoubtedly enable you to plan the growth of your business as best as possible.
To help you progress with your project, France (and particularly Normandy) has several organizations which can help, such as the Normandy Development Agency (ADN)which has a specific task force to help companies to set up in the region.
• Do I have a good international business lawyer in France?
Last but not least, finding a good international business lawyer is indeed very important.
With the assistance of a specialist lawyer, you will not only avoid potential risks but also ensure that both your business and personal interests are fully taken care of, providing you the peace of mind you need. The sound advice of such a legal expert will guarantee that your project goes ahead in the best possible conditions and is a success.
When you decide to export your business, it is essential to understand that beyond legislation, legal and business culture in France is different to those of your home country.
Ensuring you are accompanied by a local team of expert’s lawyers will provide you with the serenity and guarantees you need to develop your business successfully.
Thierry Ygouf and Valentine Lucas
West Avocats team