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Can I run multiple businesses under one limited company?

Can I run multiple businesses under one limited company?
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    Many contractors will question whether it is legally allowed to carry out multiple businesses under a single limited company. The short answer to that is yes.

    Contractors who have set up their own limited companies can use trading names to sectionalise the entire company into distinctive units that can run as independent businesses.

    We need to pay attention to a few factors before deciding whether to proceed with the idea of operating multiple businesses under one limited company.

    The following blog will provide insight into running numerous businesses under a single company name and its implications.

    Conducting different businesses under one company name

    UK company law allows business owners to have other brands or trading names for numerous firms. A famous example of this would be a catering company owning a number of restaurant chains.

    The most important factor to keep in mind is that the trading company will not be allowed to use the term “Ltd” or “Limited”, like their parent company.

    What does “trading name” mean?

    A trading name is a term given for a business name where companies do not operate under their registered company name.

    An entity usually uses a more specific name for its trading name rather than the possibly lengthy, formal registered name.

    The main difference between a trading name and a registered name is that legal agreements are entered into using the registered name, as trading names differing from their registered names are not identifiable as legally responsible.

    Although business owners have the ability to use multiple trading names to run various businesses under an individual limited company, these distinctions should be made clear in the critical documentation and public communication media such as company documentation, business stationery, company website, etc.

    How do you declare profits and losses in trading companies?

    Businesses that operate under a single company name usually maintain independent management accounts to record the revenue and expenses of each business.

    Although companies maintain several sets of management accounts, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) requires companies to submit only one set of annual financial accounts and CT600 company tax returns.

    There might be complications or difficulties when allocating costs to different businesses.

    It is quite challenging to allocate business administrative expenses to different businesses when they all operate under a single company name.

    It will benefit you if you consult and obtain support from an experienced accountant to ensure compliance with the relevant laws and regulations when submitting annual financial returns.

    What are the tax implications of running multiple businesses under a single company?

    There are numerous tax consequences of running many businesses under one company. An example of this is the method of obtaining tax relief for losses.

    When you have established separate entities for each business you conduct, they must claim “group relief” where there may be losses in some businesses and profits in others.

    In certain circumstances, you might be unable to reduce the level of profits by the number of losses, depending on the types and amounts of gains and losses incurred.

    In that case, loss relief will be much more efficient and straightforward for a company with several businesses under its name.

    However, in many cases, it is recommended to form separate companies for each business you conduct, as it might allow you to lower your Corporation Tax.

    Directors of limited companies can draw salaries from all the companies they own up to the Class 1 NI threshold for which there is no Income Tax. They also can be subject to dividends from all the companies they own.

    What are the practical, legal, and commercial factors to consider when having multiple businesses under a single company?

    You might think it would be easier for a business owner to operate a single multi-trade company because there would be fewer administrative and reporting requirements.

    However, there might be a need to have separate companies for each business due to regulatory, legal, or commercial constraints.

    For example, if any of the businesses under a single company are deemed “high risk”, it would be beneficial to be incorporated as a separate legal entity.

    That is because, in the case of a business bankruptcy or failure, the other companies in the group would be required to pay the creditors of the failed business using assets of the multi-business company, which may contain the assets of the profitable trades as well.

    What are the advantages and disadvantages of conducting distinct businesses under a single entity?

     

    ProsCons
    It is less costly to register multiple companies under a single company name rather than forming new companies.If one business experiences loss, the other businesses will also have to pay the price.
    It might be much simpler from an administrative point of view.Confusion may occur when there are several trading names under one company.
    Moving employees between the different companies might become less complex.High profitability for tax implications to be unfavourable.
    You will only require one registration, insurance and license for operationsThere might be a need to register several trademarks.
    Requires you to submit only one set of annual accounts and CT600.If you plan to sell one business, it will be complicated to extract the essential financial information if it is combined with the other businesses under the same company.

    FAQs

    Can a limited company run multiple businesses?

    Yes, a limited company is allowed to run multiple businesses under a single name.

    This means that the company should be compartmentalised into distinct units that operate as unique businesses.

    Can a limited company have multiple trading names?

    It is possible for a company to have many trading names. However, these names cannot be registered as official names.

    These trading names are often used for marketing reasons.

    Can two businesses have the same name in the UK?

    Your limited company’s name cannot be the same as the registered name of another company.

    If your company name is very similar to another company’s name, you might need to alter it to avoid facing any complaints and legal actions.

    Can a limited company use a trading name?

    Yes, companies have the ability to use trading names. As opposed to company names, it is not mandatory to register trading names.

    Can I register a limited company and not trade?

    If you have already registered your company name but have no intention of starting trading activities right away, you can leave the company in a “dormant” state.

    Conclusion

    As mentioned above, there are a number of benefits to be obtained by operating as distinct businesses under a sole company.

    However, it is the usual choice of business owners to incorporate independent companies for the different entities they conduct. This is due to reduced confusion and favourable tax implications.

    Expert accounting advice can help you make the right choice that will maximise your potential gain and increase your take-home pay.

    You can reach our team of specialists on 0203 0111 898 or email us at [email protected].

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