You have made a decision to move to France and are now looking at ways to make a living there. Starting a new business is an option, but it involves building a customer base from scratch. This article gives you some tips on buying an existing business in France.
Advantages of buying an existing business in France
- The business is already up and running and the vendor can help you settle down, by getting to know the customer and explaining how the business works. You may ask for a special clause in the contract asking the vendor to stay for a two to three weeks’ changeover or passation, while you get familiar with the business and you are being introduced to customers and suppliers.
- An existing business will generate income from day one, hence putting less pressure on you. Obviously you will need to analyse the loss and profit accounts, to ensure that the business will generate enough income for you to live on.
- You may already have identified ways to further develop the business or improve its profit.
Which kind of French business to buy
The tourism trade is a major source of existing businesses to buy for expatriates. You may consider looking at buying a:
- Gite or chamber d’hotes. Buying a property with an existing gite business and with extra potential for development (extra gites, tables d’hotes, sport, relaxation or painting retreat stays for instance).
- Camping sites and hotels.
- Restaurants, brasseries and cafés.
- Tour guide companies (will require specific qualification).
Where can you find businesses for sales in France
If you have decided on a specific area of France where you wish to live, but are still flexible on the town or village, you can look at national French websites such as:
Most French businesses are sold via local notaires and estate agents/agent immobiliers. So it is worth going to see them to check what is available. You may also want to check with Tribunal du Commerce for business that went bankrupt are sold very cheaply; this is called liquidation judiciaire. The liquidator will ask people to make a bid for the business and will allocate the business to the best offer.
Once you have started looking at businesses for sale in France, you will need to get help from a professional in order to assess the business and give you legal advice.