Group Structures for Small Businesses: A Comprehensive Guide to Protecting Assets and Maximising Opportunities

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Small business owners face numerous challenges and risks in today’s dynamic and uncertain business environment. As a result, a growing need exists to safeguard valuable assets and explore new avenues for growth and expansion. One effective strategy for achieving these objectives is implementing group structures. By organising your business into a group structure, you can protect your core assets and capitalise on various advantages such as tax benefits, regulatory perks, and increased operational efficiency.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the concept of group structures, the types of structures available, and the benefits they offer. Additionally, we will address potential drawbacks and answer frequently asked questions to help small business owners decide whether a group structure is the right choice for their unique circumstances.

Understanding Group Structures

A group structure is an arrangement where one limited company, known as the holding company, owns at least one other limited company subsidiary. This enables the holding company to control multiple subsidiaries and safeguard assets by isolating them within the holding company. Group structures are primarily established to minimize commercial risks and protect valuable assets.

Types of Group Company Structures

Three primary types of group company structures exist, each offering distinct advantages and disadvantages:

  1. Holding Company Structure: In this arrangement, the holding company owns most or all shares in its subsidiary companies. This structure gives the holding company complete control over subsidiaries but may make raising capital more challenging.
  2. Management Structure: This structure involves the parent company managing the operations of subsidiary companies without owning any shares in them. While it makes raising capital easier, the parent company has less control over subsidiaries.
  3. Joint Venture Structure: In a joint venture, parent companies collaborate to form a new entity, pooling resources and distributing risks. Joint ventures are common in the insurance, banking, and property industries.

Benefits of Implementing a Group Structure

Adopting a group structure can yield numerous advantages for small businesses:

  1. Protection of Assets: Group structures can safeguard assets such as capital, property, and equipment.
  2. Regulatory Benefits: Group structures can minimize regulatory and administrative burdens by distributing them across multiple subsidiaries.
  3. Centralisation of Assets and Functions: Group structures can centralise assets like property and intellectual property, making them easier to manage and allocate.
  4. Tax Advantages: Group structures can offer tax benefits, such as offsetting losses in one subsidiary against profits in another or avoiding stamp duty fees when transferring assets between companies.
  5. Pooling Resources: Holding companies can draw on the resources of their subsidiaries, resulting in greater efficiency and potential growth.
  6. Separating Income Streams: Holding income-producing assets outside the group can create additional income streams and tax breaks.
  7. Business Advantages: Group structures facilitate the addition of new subsidiaries and the introduction of investors, simplifying business expansion.

Disadvantages of Group Structures

Despite the numerous benefits, group structures may not suit every business. Potential drawbacks include:

  1. Additional Accountancy Fees: Separate accounts and corporation tax returns are required for each subsidiary and holding/parent company.
  2. Disposal Issues: Disposing of a subsidiary may involve tax issues and other complications, depending on the structure.
  3. Extra Admin: Maintaining separate records for each subsidiary can increase administrative workloads.

Seeking Professional Assistance with Group Structures

Group structures can provide significant advantages but may not be ideal for every business. Investigating and understanding the potential benefits and drawbacks before implementing a group structure is crucial.

For expert advice on group structures and holding companies, contact us. Our team will help you determine if a group structure is the right choice for your business and guide you through the process.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Group Structures for Small Businesses

Q1: What is the primary purpose of a group structure?

A: The main goal of a group structure is to protect valuable business assets from commercial risks and liabilities. This is achieved by isolating these assets within a holding company and distributing business activities across multiple subsidiaries.

Q2: How does a group structure benefit my business in terms of tax advantages?

A: Group structures can offer tax benefits, such as offsetting losses in one subsidiary against profits in another, and avoiding stamp duty fees when transferring assets between companies. Additionally, some structures may facilitate the creation of separate income streams with their own tax breaks.

Q3: Can I change my existing business structure to a group structure?

A: Yes, converting your existing business structure to a group structure is possible by forming a holding company and creating subsidiary companies as needed. Consult an accountant or solicitor to determine the most appropriate structure for your situation.

Q4: Is a group structure suitable for every type of small business?

A: While group structures offer numerous benefits, they may not fit every business best. Additional accountancy fees, disposal issues, and increased administrative work should be considered before implementing a group structure.

Q5: How do I choose the right type of group structure for my business?

A: Your business’s most suitable group structure depends on your specific needs, objectives, and industry. Consult with an accountant or solicitor to help you assess the advantages and drawbacks of each type of structure and determine the best fit for your business.

Q6: Are there any industry-specific regulations I should know when forming a group structure?

A: Regulations and requirements may vary depending on the industry in which your business operates. It is essential to consult with a legal professional or industry expert to ensure your group structure complies with all relevant regulations.

Q7: What are the key steps to forming a group structure?

A: The primary steps to forming a group structure include consulting with an accountant or solicitor, selecting the appropriate structure type, creating the holding company, registering subsidiaries, and transferring assets as necessary. Ongoing management, reporting, and compliance requirements should also be considered.

Q8: How do I manage the increased administrative work associated with a group structure?

A: To manage the additional administrative workload, you can implement efficient record-keeping systems, adopt technology and software solutions, and consider outsourcing specific tasks or hiring additional staff to handle the increased responsibilities.

Q9: Can I add new subsidiaries to my group structure?

A: Once your group structure is in place, you can add new subsidiary businesses as needed. This flexibility allows for easier business expansion and investment opportunities.

Q10: How do I dissolve a group structure or dispose of a subsidiary?

A: Dissolving a group structure or disposing of a subsidiary may involve tax issues and other complications, depending on the specific circumstances. Consult with an accountant or solicitor to ensure you address all legal and financial implications before dissolving a group structure or disposing of a subsidiary.


Group structures offer a range of significant advantages for small businesses, from protecting valuable assets to providing tax benefits and creating new growth opportunities. However, it is essential to consider the potential drawbacks and challenges, such as increased administration and accountancy fees, before deciding to implement a group structure. By carefully assessing the pros and cons and seeking professional advice, you can determine the most appropriate structure for your business and unlock its full potential.

Suppose you’re ready to explore the possibilities of group structures for your small business or need assistance making the right decision. In that case, our team of expert accountants at Mercian Accountants is here to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and discuss your specific needs. Let us help you safeguard your assets, optimise your operations, and drive your business towards long-term success.