Business Information: Latest Reports and Business Shorts
Singapore is the most business-friendly economy in the world. Singapore tops the list of business-friendly economies globally, while five of the top 10 most improved countries are in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the World Bank Group’s Doing Business 2015 rankings. The 12th annual report finds that the 10 economies with the most business-friendly regulatory environments are Singapore; New Zealand; Hong Kong SAR, China; Denmark; the Republic of Korea; Norway; the United States; the United Kingdom; Finland; and Australia. The 10 economies that have improved the most since the previous year are Tajikistan, Benin, Togo, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Trinidad and Tobago, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Azerbaijan, Ireland, and the United Arab Emirates. To view the full report go to

Legacies, Clouds, Uncertainties: The IMF publishes its latest World Economic Outlook.The IMF advises that, despite setbacks, an uneven global recovery continues. However, largely due to weaker-than-expected global activity in the first half of 2014, the IMF's growth forecast for the world economy has been revised downward to 3.3% for this year (0.4 percentage point lower than in the April 2014 World Economic Outlook (WEO)) and 3.6% in 2015. The IMF advises that short term risks include a worsening of geopolitical tensions and a reversal of recent risk spread and volatility compression in financial markets. Medium-term risks include stagnation and low potential growth in advanced economies and a decline in potential growth in emerging markets. To view the WEO go to

New generation of “micropreneurs” changes landscape of UK business economy. A new study, Growing Pains, from RSA has found that micro-sized businesses are the only size category to have grown their proportion of the UK business stock since 2000 – compared with small, medium and large-sized businesses – rising sharply by 1.4 million or 43%. However, what looks like an increase in entrepreneurship is actually a new generation of “micropreneurs” or sole traders. When looking at more detailed size band information, the number of zero-employee firms has increased by 21.4% since the recession, making this the fastest growing business size category analysed. The research also found that 55% of SMEs don’t survive over five years and that business survival rates have fallen significantly since the financial crisis. To view the report go to

UK businesses 'in the dark' about money owed. More than a third of small and medium-sized UK businesses are in the dark about how much money they are owed in unpaid invoices, research by Bibby Financial Services has revealed. In total, 36% of SMEs were unable to say how much they have outstanding. Of the businesses that did know, almost a third (31%), said they were owed more than £20,000 and more than one in 10 (14%) were owed more than £50,000. 6% were owed in excess of £100,000. The issue is particularly acute in the hospitality sector, with two thirds (67%) unsure of the amounts owed to them. Meanwhile, almost four in ten (39%) transport and distribution firms admit to being unclear about what was in their payment pipeline. To view Bibby Financial Services' news release go to

The number of Scots firms failing fell by 16.4% in Q3 2014. According to analysis of the latest figures by BDO, the number of Scottish firms failing in the third quarter of 2014 fell by 16.4% compared with the second quarter and by 22.0% year on year. The Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) figures show that 209 Scottish companies went bust during the third quarter compared with 250 in Q2 of 2014. Bryan Jackson, business restructuring partner at BDO in Scotland, explained: "The fall in corporate insolvencies in the third quarter reflects the relatively benign economic circumstances in which we are operating. The low interest rates, the falling energy costs, and the increase in demand have all lead to a period when many businesses can start to contemplate growth once more." To view BDO's news release go to

UK High Street sales growth remains robust – CBI. Retail sales volumes continued to grow in the year to October, with another strong rise expected in the month ahead, according to the CBI. The CBI’s latest monthly Distributive Trades Survey of 124 firms showed a third successive month of firmly above-average sales growth. But sales growth was mixed across different sub-sectors, and sales fell below average for the time of year. The clothing sector, furniture & carpets and grocers in particular saw an acceleration in sales growth (+86%, +72% and +33% respectively). However a fall in sales was reported in other sectors, including Chemists (-55%), specialist food & drink (-24%) and hardware & DIY (-33%). To view the CBI's news release go to

UK business leaders remain optimistic as balance swings in the eurozone. New research shows that the economic balance of the eurozone is undergoing significant change as German business confidence took a sharp nosedive in the last quarter, threatening to drag the world’s biggest trading block downwards. In contrast, UK business leaders remained highly optimistic over the UK's economic prospects during the past three months. According to Grant Thornton’s International Business Report (IBR) – a global quarterly survey - the changes across the eurozone uncover a ‘see-saw effect’, with prospects for growth rising in the economies of Spain, Ireland and Greece just as Germany’s and France’s fall. To view Grant Thornton's news release go to

Latest statistics indicates that the long-term UK corporate insolvency trend is downwards. Latest figures from the Insolvency Service indicate that the number of company liquidations in England and Wales decreased by 11.7% compared with July to September 2013. Administrations decreased by 18.8%, and company voluntary arrangements and receiverships also decreased. However, commenting on the July-September England & Wales insolvency statistics, R3 president Giles Frampton warned: “Decreasing corporate insolvencies and sustained economic growth don’t always go hand-in-hand: counter-intuitively, growth can lead to rising insolvency levels. . . Recent R3 research found 154,000 businesses, up from 103,000 in November 2013, were only able to pay the interest on their debts.” To view R3's news release go to To view The Insolvency Service's latest figures in full go to

Profit warnings reach highest third quarter total since 2008, reveals EY. UK quoted companies issued 69 profit warnings in Q3 2014, the highest third quarter total since 2008 and 13 more than the same quarter of 2013, according to EY’s latest Profit Warnings report. The rise in profit warnings exposes the struggles of many companies to adapt and read the challenges of the new economy and cannot be explained by more companies warning multiple times. In the twelve months to the end of Q3, 23% of companies warning did so more than once - just above the calendar year average of 22%. Keith McGregor, EY’s Capital Transformation Leader for Europe, Middle East, India and Africa, commented: “The recovery isn’t returning us to the pre-crisis economy. Companies are finding this a tough economy to grow sales and margins, and a tough economy to read, as this latest rise in profit warnings indicates.” To view EY's news release go to

UK Businesses get lax on late payment as confidence grows. The current boom in UK business confidence could be short-lived if firms fail to keep an eye on cashflow warns Lovetts. In the third quarter of 2014, businesses saw the average debt owed to them rise by 17% on Q2 2014. However, rather than act on this dent to their cashflow, Lovetts found that businesses relaxed their attitude to chasing late payments, allowing debtors an average of 12 days longer before threatening legal action with a Letter Before Action (LBA) compared to Q2. In addition, the time from the LBA being issued to a legal claim to recover the debt being made rose from 23 days to 28 days suggesting businesses have been slower to recover the money owed to them. Charles Wilson, CEO of Lovetts commented: "Now is not the take to be taking the eye off the ball. Businesses need to get a grip on the debts owed to them so that they are in good shape to capitalise on the improving economic landscape." To view Lovetts' news release go to

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