Sales Representative in the U.K.

Overview by

Using a Commercial Agent

The Advantages
For small to medium companies, partnering with an experienced and established local distributor is an advisable entry strategy. Regardless of the size of the company, however, market knowledge is essential and cultural specifics important. The criteria for using or not a commercial agent will be linked to the degree of risk that the company wants to take on, which in itself will determine how much control can be derived.
Where to Be Vigilant
National laws governing the relationships between agent and principal, and between distributor and supplier, are broadly harmonized within the EU, where Directives establish the rights and obligations of the parties. In the case of EU agents and their non-EU principals, should the agreement fail, the law will generally favour the agent, who is in any case entitled to a compensation. It is therefore advisable to have any potential agreements checked by a lawyer.
Elements of Motivation
Agents are remunerated by way of a commission, whereas a distributor will apply a margin when selling goods. The agent's commission will generally be lower than the distributor's margin.
The Average Amount of Commission
The British Agents register publishes a guide to Agency Agreements and Contracts, see British Agent Register website.
Breach of Contract
The British Agents register publishes a guide to Agency Agreements and Contracts, see British Agent Register website.
Finding a Commercial Agent
British Agents Register
The Manufacturers' Agents' Association (MAA)
Find Sales and Distribution Service Providers in the United Kingdom on

Setting Up a Commercial Unit

The Advantages
Setting up a commercial unit in the UK shows commitment to the market. A permanent presence also allows for greater understanding of the country's culture, consumption habits of the market targeted, competitors' strategies and better acceptability of the offer.
Where to Be Vigilant
Setting up can be expensive and risky if the market has not yet been established.
Different Possible Forms of Settlement
  • A Representative Office
A representative office is appropriate when there is no local representative, or if the activities of the UK company supplement the parent company's (i.e. a warehouse to store goods distributed by UK distributors). A representative office must be registered with Companies House.
  • A Branch Office
Setting up a branch is only pertinent if business is being conducted from the UK or if a local representative has been nominated by the parent company. A branch does not constitute a separate legal entity and all its activities are carried out for and on behalf of the parent company. It cannot exist alongside a representative office. A branch office must be registered with Companies House and produce yearly a set of statutory documents.
  • A Company
Setting up a local company will generally be of the Limited type. Despite requiring more time and expense, it can offer better protection for proprietary information, easier access to credit and more effective market penetration.


Evolution of the Sector
The industry is now worth more than £10 billion a year to the economy and employs 370,000 people.
Some Big Franchises
Autosmart, Vehicle cleaning products
Driver Hire
Oscar , Pet Foods
Pirtek, Fluid transfer
Prontaprint, Printing
Rosemary Conley, Taxassist Accountants
Taxassist Accountants
For Further Information
British Franchise Association

Finding Assistance

Export Trading Companies
Institute of Export
Find more on about Selling to the United Kingdom.

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