Samsung Chooses ‘Cheaper’ Berlin Over London as Next HQ

But will they lose top talent as a consequence of this move?

An Opinion Piece by Tony Coe, Founder & CEO of Saunders 1865

I see that Samsung Next, the $150 million technology fund, has chosen Berlin over London for their next headquarters due to the lower cost of living in the German city.

Samsung’s Managing Director in Europe, Felix Peterson, argued that it has become “increasingly hard for people to build companies” in London because there are no reasonably priced neighbourhoods left.  He went on to say that money goes further in Berlin and you have to be very rich to have a good life in London.

Hmmm…..well, it’s true, you do get what you pay for.  And I can’t help but support the instant rebuttals from other business leaders and community members.

Russ Shaw, founder of technology trade group Tech London Advocates, said that £1 billion had been pumped into London's tech sector during the first half of this year alone, adding: "Berlin has a lot of catching up to do.”

A spokeswoman for Sadiq Khan the Mayor of London chimed in,

“London is Europe’s largest tech hub and is open to talent, entrepreneurs and innovation from all over the world.  Some of the world’s biggest companies are proud to call London their home and have made a commitment to the city.  [IS ALL THAT SADIQ?  COULDN’T TELL FOR SURE FROM YOUR DRAFT.]  In the past year alone, Apple, Google and Facebook have pledged long-term investment into London, saying that the capital is leading place for technology and innovation. London is one of the best cities in the world in which to do business.”

There’s no doubt that London is an expensive city.  But it’s a fantastic place to live and work.  Expats love living here.  They often choose to raise their families here.

Equally, over my 3 decades in the corporate relocation business, I’ve seen many expats choose to leave their jobs rather than accept a relocation away from London.  Sometimes they initially accept the move but then leave their employer to return to London after a period of trying to adjust to (what they perceive to be) an inferior lifestyle in the overseas city.

Because London is a magnificent talent magnet, many of our corporate clients feel it’s well worthwhile paying a premium to be here.  Not only is London loved by key talent, locating your HQ  here also adds prestige to a company’s brand.  Customers’ confidence is reinforced because you have your HQ in London.  Top talent, especially the young rainmakers, absolutely love it.

And customers appreciate that you’re located in such a great city.  Everything you need is on your doorstep - fantastic transport links, wonderful cultural and entertainment experiences, the best law firms and accounting firms.  The list goes on and on.

So whilst of course I understand that cutting costs is an essential part of operating a business successfully, I also know that relocating your HQ to some place away from London can come with a whole bunch of hidden costs and lost opportunities that may not be felt for some years.

There are always cheaper places you can move your HQ to – and sometimes there’s no alternative.  My firm relocates key people for corporate clients all over the world - and what I do know is this.  When an employer is asking key talent to move to an overseas city, they better have the right relocation package and support services in place.  They are making a big lifestyle adjustment and I can’t tell you how much they appreciate the fact that their company cares about making the move as easy and enjoyable for them as possible.  In the scheme of things, the best relocation support is the best investment an employer can make.

Best relocation support





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