Makers growing out of cities often reach a point where they need to consider the virtues of staying in the city or leaving. For some speciality businesses, such as signage, there are limits for growth within a particular metropolitan region and therefore it is critical to grow or be overtaken by competitors. In other cases, taxation and permits become a notable deterrent. However cities also bring an identity that make simply picking up and leaving, a challenging choice that is more than just about finance. Petrus Neon has been in Brussels for half a century and services much of the country's largest brands.
Signage and clients
Petrus is a signage company located at the south of Brussels. It has grown over the years from a business offering one-off solutions to small shops to now building strong relationships with brands and companies to deliver a full service, from design to manufacturing and installation. Moving up a scale has allowed them to employ some 120 staff.
Living and selling signs out of Brussels is deemed as the most neutral proposition for any company in Belgium, where identity remains a challenging issue. Brussels is seen as the neutral option for bi-lingual companies. It is also a centre for the country’s largest businesses and a pool of clients for Neon. However despite this, Brussels is constantly congested. Employees generally arrive very early, while deliveries and installation of signage needs to take into account lengthy delays due to congestion. Finally, taxes associated with the city are also weighing down on long-term planning. While the business has a comfortable position in the city, the decision will need to be taken at some stage, particularly if the business is to grow or diversify.
According to the owner of Petrus Neon, one of the most pesky disadvantages of being located in the city is the overwhelming and indiscriminate number of taxes. These can range from parking taxes (even if the company doesn’t use off-street parking), tax of production space, tax on office space, tax of machinery and so on. The overall amount of taxes are considered far greater than in the neighbouring Flanders or Wallonia and this alone could be enough to push the company to relocate.