Small Catalan companies tempted to relocate

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flickr/SBA73/CC BY-SA
flickr/SBA73/CC BY-SA

BARCELONE (AFP) – Small Catalan firms are moving their headquarters outside of the region or setting up parallel companies to skirt a boycott of goods from Catalonia by Spaniards angry over its separatist push.

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While tensions have eased somewhat since Spain’s central government last month took direct control of the northeast region and has scheduled regional elections in December, many businesses in Catalonia still feel the need to guard against uncertainty.

The head of a small family-run wine and spirits business said he believes setting up a duplicate distribution firm for his goods in Madrid was the right move.

His company’s sales have plunged by over 30 percent since Catalonia went ahead with a banned referendum on October 1 followed by the Catalan parliament unilaterally declaring independence.

The new distribution company allows him to slap his products – which continue to be made in Catalonia – with a Madrid address that he hopes will help sales recover.

“We won’t sell anymore if we don’t do this,” said the businessman, who like other executives in Catalonia did not want to be identified due to the sensitivity of the independence issue.

“This is a decision you take when you have no other choice,” he told AFP.

Over 2,700 companies have moved their headquarters outside of Catalonia since the referendum because of the uncertainty caused by the separatist drive and the boycott campaign, according to Spain’s commercial registrar’s office.

The moves are mainly administrative for now, but many fear the companies could eventually relocate staff and production outside of the region as well.

While the departure of listed multinationals, including Catalonia’s two big banks, Caixabank and Sabadell, have grabbed the media spotlight, the exodus also includes small and medium sized firms.

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