Business Information: Latest Reports and Business Shorts
Mid-sized businesses account for nearly £1 in every £4 of goods exported from the UK. New research from BDO shows that the UK's mid-sized businesses are an exporting powerhouse, accounting for nearly £1 in every £4 of goods exported from the UK, despite making up less than 1% of all UK firms. Mid-sized firms are also responsible for exporting £70 billion each year out of a UK total of £300 billion. According to BDO's figures, mid-market exports are also a vital part of the regional economy, with around 75% of all mid-market sales abroad taking place outside London and the South East. The North West alone is responsible for 10% of all mid-market goods exported - its annual value of just under £6.5 billion nearly equals London's £7.5 billion – but other regional powerhouses, such as the West Midlands, whose mid-market firms export £6.3 billion each year, and the East Midlands, which exports £5 billion, also contribute significantly. To view BDO's news release go to

Latest Global Economic Forecast. The latest National Institute Economic Review from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) has advised that following growth of 3.1% in 2013, the world economy will grow by 3.3% in 2014 and 3.5% in 2015. According to the report, the broad strengthening of growth that was generally expected to occur in the advanced economies in 2014 has not materialised. Indeed, data in recent months have shown a deterioration of growth performance in the Euro Area, and also in some key emerging market economies. Key risks include the normalisation of monetary policy in the US, and the associated financial market turbulence; and worsening deflationary pressures in the Euro Area exacerbated by policy gridlock. To view NIESR's news release go to

Experian highlights how SMEs trading abroad are risking exposure to bad debt and cash flow problems. Almost 85% of UK SMEs who operate internationally do not check the credit history of potential overseas customers or suppliers to verify whether a company is reputable, according to new research by Experian. Among SMEs who operate internationally, just one in six (16%) check the credit history of potential overseas partners. This compares to 55% of all small and medium sized businesses operating in the UK and 28% of micro businesses who check the credit reports of suppliers before doing business with them. According to Experian’s research, 56% of SMEs trading overseas assess businesses through relationship building, 36% check their customer references and credentials. However, a quarter of SMEs rely simply on undertaking desk research to compare a business with its competitors. To view Experian's news release go to

Latest forecast for UK Economy. The latest National Institute Economic Review from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) has reported that its experts anticipate UK GDP growth of 3% this year, moderating to 2.5% in 2015. They also advise that although UK economic statistics have recently undergone significant revisions, they do not change the broader picture: "the turnaround of the UK economy remains the weakest in the past century while the UK’s large productivity puzzle persists and, notwithstanding the gradual accumulation of an evidence base, remains largely unsolved." Should productivity growth fail to recover as expected, NIESR warns that the impact on both living standards and public finances will be significant. Externally, the generalised weakness of the global recovery and, in particular, continued stagnation (or worse) in the Euro Area, remain significant risks for the UK economy. To view NIESR's news release go to

Informal corporate insolvency procedures up by a quarter since 2010. According to new research by R3, the number of UK companies opting to be simply removed (‘struck-off’) from the Companies House register has jumped by 28% to 178,996 in 2013-14. R3 advises that the new data provides a more complete picture of company closures than the formal insolvency statistics alone – and may help explain the lower than expected number of formal insolvency procedures since the recession. Andrew Tate, Deputy-Vice President of R3, says: “The phenomenon of ‘zombie businesses’ – businesses that survived due to the unique circumstances of the last recession but had little chance of long-term recovery – could partly explain lower than expected insolvency numbers, but falling numbers of ‘zombie businesses’ have not been matched by rising insolvencies.” However, he continues: “It may well be that many of the UK’s ‘zombie businesses’ have been just removing themselves from the Companies House register rather than opting for a formal insolvency procedure.” To view R3's news release go to

US Small-business delinquency rates hit the lowest level on record. According to the most recent Experian/Moody’s Analytics Small Business Credit Index, US small-business credit conditions have improved and reached an all-time high and delinquency rates have reached the lowest level on record - falling to 8.8% from 9.3% the previous quarter. Findings from the report also showed that small businesses saw significant improvement in several other key business credit health categories. Most notably, they improved their payment behaviour in the third quarter, reducing the number of days they paid their bill beyond contracted terms by more than a day, or nearly 19%, from a year ago. Third-quarter findings also saw 11.9% fewer businesses filing for bankruptcy. To view Experian's news release go to

UK business confidence continues to fall due to uncertainties ahead. According to the latest ICAEW/Grant Thornton UK Business Confidence Monitor even though business confidence is still at a historically high level, it has fallen again as economic uncertainty impacts on firms’ plans for the year ahead. With the General Election less than six months away, the latest ICAEW/Grant Thornton UK Business Confidence Monitor (BCM) also indicates that skills shortages and regulatory requirements are more of a challenge now than in the run up to the last election in 2010. Scott Barnes, CEO of Grant Thornton UK LLP, commented: "The latest BCM results continue to reflect the ‘Indian summer’ feel to 2014 but there are signs that cooler conditions are approaching. Although confidence remains relatively high, financial indicators are beginning to reflect the uncertainties that businesses are feeling about their prospects for the year ahead." To view Grant Thornton's news release and access the full report go to

The UK's food retailing industry experiences the sharpest increase in ‘significant’ financial distress of all sectors. According to Begbies Traynor's Red Flag Alert research for Q3 2014, which monitors the financial health of UK companies, the UK's food retailing industry experienced the sharpest increase in ‘Significant’ financial distress of all sectors monitored, rising 11% over the past three months to 4,239 struggling businesses. On an annualised basis, the sector’s fortunes have deteriorated even further, with ‘significant’ financial distress increasing 53% from 2,766 last year. Meanwhile, more severe cases of ‘Critical’ financial distress rose 23% over the last quarter, including seven large food retailers, categorised as businesses with more than 500 employees. Of these, three are well-known household brands, all of which have incurred adverse financial actions over the past quarter; typically an indicator that they are failing to pay some creditors until well beyond the agreed terms. To view Begbies Traynor's news release go to

CBI sees steady UK growth against a choppier global outlook. According to the CBI’s latest economic forecast, the UK economy is on a firm footing with steady growth of 3% and 2.5% forecast in 2015 and 2016 (the fastest GDP growth rates in the G7 since the beginning of 2013), but a major risk to the recovery is the challenging global outlook - particularly in the Eurozone. However, the CBI also finds that the UK’s export performance remains disappointing, with export growth expected to slide into the red this year (-1.0%), before picking up in 2015 (3.6%), and strengthening further in 2016 (5.7%). John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said: “While the domestic picture is strong, the global backdrop is choppier. We are facing a heady mix of sluggish Eurozone growth, heightened tensions in Russia, Ukraine and the Middle East, and softening emerging markets, particularly in China, which could dent our export ambitions.” To view the CBI's news release go to

36% of UK small businesses shun overseas expansion. According to research by KPMG and YouGov, more than a third (36%) of small businesses have no interest in exploring overseas markets. The survey of 1100 UK SMEs found that complex legal regimes, followed closely by not having strong enough networks with overseas organisations and lack of tax incentives were the main barriers preventing small businesses from taking advantage of the huge growth potential offered by overseas markets. The challenges were less pronounced for mid-sized businesses where just 20% of respondents said that they had no interest in exploring overseas markets. Currently only 17% of UK medium-sized businesses generate revenues outside of the EU compared to 25% in Germany and 30% in Italy. According to the CBI, businesses are 11% more likely to survive if they export. To view KPMG's new release go to

Hilton Baird's latest SME Trends Index reports that 23% of UK SMEs have seen an increase in bad debt in the past six months. Hilton Baird has published its latest SME Trends Index which has found that 23% of SMEs have seen an increase in bad debt in the past six months. Companies with higher levels of bad debt were also struggling in other aspects of their business, and many of those reporting an increase in bad debt were forced to fall behind on payments of their own. As well as this, the increase in bad debts also had a negative impact on profit and turnover: 54% of those with an increase in bad debts saw their profits fall compared to 29% overall. To view the news release with a link to the full report go to

Russia in double trouble. The ever-tightening noose of sanctions and tumbling oil prices are combining to put the Russian economy in “double trouble” as 2015 approaches, according to a new IHS report revealed exclusively to GTR. The rouble has dropped 25% against the US dollar this year, and the ratings outlook for the country will continue to darken should Russian companies’ access to western debt markets remain limited. According to the report, further ratings downgrades are expected. “One hears a lot at the moment about Russian risks, but I’ve been told that, historically, Russians are good customers that always pay on the nail,” says director of sovereign risk at IHS and author of the global insight provider’s 2014 third quarter Sovereign Risk Review, Jan Randolph. “But the broader implications for trade are that the economy is weakening, and it’s an ongoing story." To view GTR's article go to

Protecting your business from cyber crime and data loss. According to new research by QBE, 32% of businesses in the UK are more concerned about the threat of cyber crime and data loss now than they were just six months ago. With the cost of cyber crime estimated to be in the region of £27 billion a year in the UK, and a recent study involving 36 large organisations in the UK finding that the average cost of cyber crime was calculated to be £2.99 million per annum, QBE has published a new report to examine in detail what can businesses do to protect themselves? To view QBE's report go to

Small increase in proportion of registered businesses in GB trading internationally between 2012 and 2013. The ONS has advised that its latest Annual Business Survey statistics reveal that 15.6% (308,300) of registered businesses engaged in international trade in the Non-Financial Business economy in 2013. This was a small increase on 2012, when the proportion of businesses that traded internationally was 15.2% (287,800 businesses). The Survey also found that in 2013, 66.7% of foreign-owned businesses in GB traded internationally, compared to only 15.0% of UK-owned businesses. However, the proportion for foreign-owned businesses who traded internationally decreased from 71.0% in 2012 whereas the proportion of UK-owned businesses increased from 14.5%. Businesses with a higher turnover were more likely to trade internationally in goods and/or services, with 75.1% of businesses with a turnover greater than £500 million trading goods and/or services, compared to 12.6% of businesses with a turnover less than £1 million in 2013. To view the ONS' detailed news release go to
Adapted from data from the Office for National Statistics licensed under the Open Government Licence v.2.0.


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