Expanding to a new market can bring many challenges – from adapting to a new legal jurisdiction to selecting a site, companies can find themselves operating on a steep learning curve. When SII Group was looking to expand their Canadian operations, they were happy to find that help was waiting for them.

SII Group logo

SII Group is a French consulting firm offering engineering and IT services across industries ranging from aerospace to banking to healthcare. Already operating in 18 countries, they opened their first Canadian office in Montreal in 2015. Alexandre Santos, the firm's Canadian director, explains Toronto was their necessary next step, "Toronto was always very attractive; it's the fourth biggest city in North America; it's the heart of the Canadian finance industry, with a very big aerospace and automotive sector. It has a lot to offer us in terms of potential customers."

Putting plans into action (with a little help)

Expanding to a new jurisdiction requires legal and regulatory issues to be resolved, a site to be selected, and of course connecting with new customers.

Santos credits the Ontario Investment Office (OIO) with making the process easier, and being beneficial for businesses. "They gave us insight into what's needed to open a business in Ontario and connected us with important automotive industry contacts." OIO's Business Concierge Services is a one-stop shop offering insights on market opportunities, incentives, talent, immigration, site selection and more. He continues, "It gave us reassurance, coming into a new province and having someone there from the government helping us and wanting us to succeed."

A place to grow

Success has come quickly. The Canadian division is among the fastest growing in the global company, growing 30% quarterly between 2016 and 2017. The firm already employs 80 people in Canada with plans to hire more this year in Toronto. "The universities here provide a lot of bright new recruits for businesses," Santos notes.

SII is optimistic for future growth, Santos says, taking advantage of Ontario's potential. "Aerospace is where we have seen the most growth so far, but Ontario offers tech opportunities too. Here in Toronto I've connected with people at conferences for fintech and AI. There's a lot of opportunities to develop ourselves as a company, not to mention new business."

Also promising is the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA), a free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union that was approved in 2017. Santos believes the agreement will make it easier for European companies to do business in Canada, and vice versa, and make it more attractive for the group to sell their services from Canada.

While the global economy is always uncertain leaving speculation over what the future may hold, Santos believes for SII it means growth. "People see Canada as a mature market, but there is room for growth. Growth may come from new ways of thinking, new tools, applications, or infrastructure. But the opportunity for growth is there."

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April 10, 2018

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