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Corporate strategy

Berlin Proptech Firm Black Label Lures British Property Buyers Following Brexit

Berlin as a destination for startups following Brexit

As the UK media fill their pages with Brexit speculation, how has the result impacted our colleagues across the channel?

  • British clients are struggling to finance their Berlin transactions owing to fall in value of the Pound
  • More clients from China and the Middle East prefer Berlin to the UK following Brexit vote

And what decisions are European companies with a vested interest in the UK making?

Black Label, originally founded in London by Achim Amann and now based in Berlin, are one of the many EU companies who are watching Brexit unfold from the outside.

Black Label was the first online estate agency of its kind, the company has come a long way since its inception as a small startup.

Formerly named SimplyZigZag, the concept is simple, the company would help its international customers to zigzag past the usual methods an estate agency employed.

That meant getting rid of the shop window and dealing almost exclusively online.

Originally based in London, the company then relocated to Berlin in 2010, welcoming new partner, Andrea Mueller, in 2014.

To date the company currently employs 12 people with only two employees based in the UK.

Post-Brexit, Black Label has noticed that currency fluctuations have impacted on their British clients.

To combat this the company is offering a reduced price on properties for British people looking to move to Berlin and live there.

Founder Achim Amann says, “our British clients are struggling to finance their Berlin transactions as the pound has dropped and so we have adjusted our short term strategy in order to make the most of extra markets due to the fall in demand from the UK, instead shifting towards the Middle East and China.”

Although a sense of caution may not all be down to Brexit, it certainly seems as though an international focus is becoming more fixated on Germany and Berlin in general.

Amann says, “We have more clients from China and the Middle East who prefer Berlin to the UK when buying property, and the major reason is because of Brexit. In total our clients and sales from other countries have increased.

"But from British clients we are also now getting more transactions, especially compared to last year as they are reorienting their life (leaving London moving to Berlin and settling here).”

One of the newest recruits to Black Label is British national Amy Brandhorst, who applied to the companies ‘Adopt a Remainian’ scheme, which offered a six-month employment with the company and the chance to live and explore Berlin.

Amy documented her thoughts in a company blog where she wrote, “When I saw Black Label’s ‘Adopt a Remainian‘ campaign a few days after Brexit I thought: what a great idea, Brits need to know that there are opportunities for them outside of the UK. After studying for a year in Berlin a couple of years ago

"I was considering coming back here for a long time, then Brexit happened and the decision was made for me, because I didn’t know what could change in future in regards to the free movement. Most of my friends and I were genuinely shocked, angry and sad about the result – we’re not closed minded. We consider ourselves to be European."

Berlin is proving to be the place to start up a new business, cementing its image as an international location and Brexit is fuelling the view overseas that new financial and tech districts out of London may become a reality.

With both Amsterdam in the Netherlands on the cards, and Berlin in Germany mooted as the next financial capital, Black Label is ensuring its long term strategy to market Berlin properties and services to all nations remains its main focus.

Amann maintains that this is because properties in Berlin are freehold and available to anyone, regardless of nationality, to purchase.

Although this makes good business, it doesn’t stop Amann from mourning a possible departure from where his business started, in London.

He says, “I personally feel that the UK should have stayed in the EU. It would be better for British people and Europeans to solve European problems together but at the moment I don’t see any further complications from Brexit.”

With only two British members of staff there are little worries from a proposed restriction on freedom of movement and before the referendum there were no plans to move or expand offices, and this hasn’t changed.

Amann is ensuring the business is well prepared to deal with Brexit as it happens, but voices a concern for the British public’s choice to leave the stability of the EU’s trade and business agreements.

He says, “I still do not understand the benefits of Brexit. If there is a chance for it, the Government and British public should avoid Brexit completely and let the young British people be a part of Europe.”

Achim would advise the British government to tread carefully with the will of the nation during the Brexit negotiations.

“I don't believe that the majority of British people have understood the consequences of Brexit. They should do a second vote as it’s clear under what conditions the UK will be dealing after Brexit.”

Certainly from the ‘Adopt a Remainian’ campaign success there is a large sense of ‘European-ness’ within the UK.

And Black Label remains unhappy about saying goodbye just yet.