The Nordics

The Nordic economies are among the strongest in the Western world, enjoying increased GDP and export volumes. benjamin coren is your guide to travelling to and doing business in the nations of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland

The Nordics

The Nordic nations are famous for their high standards of living and economic freedoms. In fact, the five countries all secured a place among the top 10 nations in the recent World Happiness Report.

Comprising Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland, each of the nations has a multitude of business opportunities for UK-based enterprises and already-strong economic ties could receive a post- Brexit boost in the years ahead.

The region has a combined population of just half that of the UK, but the countries are nevertheless important business partners. English is widely spoken and is often the preferred language in which business is conducted, while innovative technology solutions, economic competitiveness, equality and welfare policies keep the Nordics one step ahead of many competing neighbours.

Denmark is receptive to UK products and investments and is ranked third in the world in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report. As a member of the EU there are no significant trade barriers, however keep an eye on Brexit negotiations to see if this could affect future trade. There are plenty of opportunities within engineering and transportation, including one of the largest rail renovation projects in Europe, running until 2025.

The UK is one of Norway’s most important trading partners and is the UK’s most significant supplier of oil and gas, with bilateral trade reported to be worth £18.57billion in 2015. As one of the world’s wealthiest nations per capita, Norway remained strong through the economic crisis.

Opportunities within Norway for UK business abound in energy, renewables and low-carbon economy – the Norwegian government runs the Enova initiative, encouraging efficiency measures and low carbon energy.

British companies such as BP, British Airways, BAE Systems and GlaxoSmithKline are operating in Sweden and doing business is very similar to the UK. It is important to note the intricacies of Swedish labour laws and that relationships between employers and unions are strong. Organisations posting workers to Sweden need to register at the Swedish Work Environment Authority.

The country is the UK’s biggest export market in the Nordics and opportunities exist in electrical and communications products, machinery and manufactured goods.

Additionally, there is increasing demand for renewable energy – the Swedish government has a target of zero reliance on fossil fuels by 2030, which has seen rapid expansion in the solar, water, biofuel and wind power industries.

Finland has a highly industrialised, largely free market economy with one of the highest per capita GDPs in Europe, with around 50% of its GDP coming from exports.

The country is experiencing a demand for business services due to public and private sector outsourcing, providing opportunities across the entire value chain for UK companies including in the areas of consultancy, advisory services, engineering and design. Finland is also strategically located at the centre of a developing marketplace of 80 million consumers in north-western Russia, Scandinavia and the Baltic States.

Iceland has the smallest population of the Nordic nations, with the majority of people residing in the capital, Reykjavik.

The UK is its closest neighbouring country and it has a long trading relationship with British businesses, notably in the food, drink and consumer goods sectors.

Now, however, the country has a number of major projects underway, presenting business opportunities including a £500million airport highspeed rail connection, a £5billion energy transmission system and a £4billion power generation project.

The airline flies from Aberdeen to Esbjerg in Denmark (daily, Mon-Fri); to Gothenburg from Birmingham (daily, Sun-Fri) and from Bristol (Mon-Thurs); from Newcastle to Stavanger (Sun-Tue, Thurs-Fri); and from Aberdeen to Oslo (Tues-Fri).

British Airways
The airline flies from London Heathrow to Copenhagen (up to seven times a day) and Billund in Denmark (twice a day); to Stockholm (up to five times a day) and Gothenburg (three times a day) in Sweden; and to Oslo (up to four times a day), Helsinki (twice a day) and Reykjavik (daily). British Airways also offers several services operated on its behalf by Sun-Air of Scandinavia. These include Manchester to Billund (up to three times a day) and Gothenburg (seasonal), and London City to Billund.

Operates to Ostersund, Sweden, from Gatwick once per week, and to Stockholm Arlanda from Luton (4) and Bristol (2). There are 20 flights a week from Gatwick to Copenhagen, plus services from Edinburgh (4), Bristol (2) and Manchester (11). It flies from Gatwick to Keflavik nine times a week, and also from Stansted (3), Edinburgh (3), Belfast (2), Manchester (9) and Bristol (3).

Operates from four airports in the UK: Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and Edinburgh. There is a seventimes- daily service from Heathrow to Helsinki, a twice-daily service from Manchester, and flights from Edinburgh are three a week, rising to five weekly flights during the summer. During the winter season, Finnair flies twiceweekly from London Gatwick to Ivalo and once weekly to Kittilä.

The airline flies non-stop to Keflavik from Heathrow twice a day with onward connections to other Nordic destinations.

Flies to Bergen from Manchester three times per week, plus Inverness (three times per week), Shetland (2), Glasgow (2) and Orkney (1).

Flies from Manchester to Stockholm Arlanda twice per week, to Oslo three times and to Stavanger twice. From Edinburgh it flies to Oslo seven times per week, Copenhagen (6) and Stockholm (3). From London Gatwick it has services to Copenhagen and Stockholm (both 31 times per week), plus Oslo (25), Bergen (13), Helsinki (13), Gothenburg (11), Stavanger (8), Trondheim (4) and Aalborg in Denmark (3).

Flies to Copenhagen from London Stansted daily, Luton (daily) and Edinburgh four times per week. The carrier also flies from Stansted to Aarhus (five times per wek), Aalborg (4) and Billund (13). It flies from Stansted to Stockholm-Skavsta 16 times per week, Stockholm- Västerås (4) and Gothenburg Landvetter (9). Ryanair operates to Oslo three times daily and Oslo Sandefjord Torp from three times per week, from Stansted.

The airline operates from Manchester to Bergen twice per week, and from Aberdeen (12) and Heathrow (11) to Stavanger. It flies from Heathrow to Oslo 32 times a week, and also has services from Manchester (9), Aberdeen (6) and Edinburgh (2). There are 40 flights a week from Heathrow to Stockholm, plus services from Manchester (33), Edinburgh (7) and Birmingham (2). There are 39 flights a week between Heathrow and Copenhagen, plus services from Manchester (18), Birmingham (11), Aberdeen (6) and Edinburgh (2).

WOW air
The airline operates flights twice daily from Gatwick to Keflavik, four flights a week from Edinburgh, and commences daily flights from London Stansted from April 25.

Wideroe flies from Aberdeen to Bergen and Stavanger twice a day from Tuesday to Friday and once on Sundays and Mondays.

Several of the big international hotel groups have a good presence in the Nordics, not least the Radisson Hotel Group which was founded in the region. 18% of its 81,000 hotel rooms are located in the Nordics. Choice Hotels also has a strong presence (Comfort, Quality, Clarion and other brands), while Hilton is making progress in Iceland – the Reykjavik Konsulat Hotel recently joined its Curio Collection and there is the Canopy Reykjavik City Centre. Notable regional hotel groups include Scandic Hotels and Thon Hotels.

Information correct at time of publication: March 2018