Business Information: Latest Reports and Business Shorts
The CBI argues that companies in the UK should report on the proportion of invoices they pay late in their annual report. The CBI, which previously called for companies to publish payment information online, has announced that it wants businesses to go further and to include this data in their annual reports so information can be reported to Companies House to aid company comparisons. John Cridland, CBI Director General, said: “We want to see companies publishing simple information online and in their annual reports about their payment practices because it shines a light on this important area and makes good business sense from an investor and supplier perspective." The CBI’s response to the Government’s current consultation on payment practices and policies also argues that companies should report annually on the proportion of invoices they pay late and their average time to pay and that narrative reporting should clearly explain their standard and maximum payment terms. To view the CBI's news release go to

Over 70% of small UK construction businesses have suffered bad debt over the past three years. Bibby Financial Services has published a report 'Planning for Growth: Construction SMEs in the UK', which advises that late payment, skills shortages and government red tape are the biggest challenge for subcontractors and small construction firms. Findings show that 70.5% of businesses have suffered bad debt over the past three years, with the average sum written-off standing at £30,465. Additionally, over half of businesses (59%) say they do not always receive the amount they have invoiced for. Helen Wheeler, Managing Director of Construction Finance at Bibby Financial Services said: "Many of the businesses we speak to have suffered bad debt, which have significantly hindered their ability to pay workers and suppliers. In many instances these bad debts have forced viable businesses to close.” The full report can be downloaded at:

UK economic growth picks up in the New Year – CBI. According to the latest CBI Growth Indicator, economic activity increased at the fastest pace in four months. This follows slowing momentum over the second half of 2014. The latest figures reflect a bounce-back in the business and professional services sector, and a solid showing in retail, the latter reflecting a bumper Christmas trading period. However, growth remained more moderate in the manufacturing sector, as a sluggish exports performance weighed on decent levels of domestic activity. Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Director for Economics, said: “Overall, economic growth in the UK remains solid. Low oil prices and benign inflation are providing a boost, supporting household incomes and spending. We’ve already seen the impact through a Christmas bonanza for retailers." To view the CBI's news release go to

UK Businesses are more cautious as confidence continues to fall. The latest ICAEW/Grant Thornton UK Business Confidence Monitor (BCM) indicates that business confidence has fallen for another quarter as businesses become more cautious about their prospects for the year ahead. Scott Barnes, CEO of Grant Thornton UK LLP, commented: “Certainty is the bedrock of business planning and the number of ‘known unknowns’ on the horizon appear to be rattling UK business confidence. The decent UK business growth that has been achieved over the last couple of years, put the UK in one of the strongest positions amongst global economies as we entered the year. Yet, in the context of a highly unpredictable UK General Election just months away, coupled with significant uncertainties across the Eurozone and the UK’s relationship with the EU, some jitters amongst UK business leaders are inevitable." To view Grant Thornton's news release go to

The US is the only major economy for which growth projections have been raised in the IMF's latest Update. The IMF has released its latest World Economic Outlook (WEO) update which advises that global growth in 2015–16 is now projected at 3.5 and 3.7% respectively. The revisions reflect a reassessment of prospects in China, Russia, the euro area, and Japan as well as weaker activity in some major oil exporters because of the sharp drop in oil prices. The US is the only major economy for which growth projections have been raised. The main upside risk is a greater boost from lower oil prices, although there is uncertainty about the persistence of the oil supply shock. Downside risks relate to shifts in sentiment and volatility in global financial markets, especially in emerging market economies where lower oil prices have introduced external and balance sheet vulnerabilities in oil exporters. To view the Update on the IMF's website go to

UK profit warnings hit a six-year high of 299 in 2014, with more FTSE 100 companies warning in 2014 than at the height of the credit crunch. However according to EY’s latest Profit Warnings report it wasn’t just the FTSE 100 that issued the lion’s share, total profit warnings from FTSE 350 companies were just three shy of the record 90 issued in 2008. The proportion of companies warning has also increased significantly - rising from 14.7% in 2013, to 16.3% in 2014. Alan Hudson, EY’s head of restructuring for UK & Ireland, commented: “The six year high in the number of profit warnings appears incongruous given that UK and global economic outlooks still signal growth, but increasing political, policy and pricing uncertainties conspired to hit confidence at the end of 2014. However, many of these pressures represent new realities, rather than a passing phase." To view EY's news release go to

UK CEOs are the most confident in Europe. According to PwC’s 18th annual Global CEO Survey published at the World Economic Forum in Davos, three out of five (61%) UK CEOs believe there are more growth opportunities for their company today than three years ago – more than any of their European peers. 85% of UK business leaders are confident about their company’s prospects for the year ahead (down from 93% 12 months ago), and 95% are confident - with 52% very confident- about growth prospects for their own company over the next three years. This is above the 92% global confidence level and, across Europe, only more Spanish CEOs (63%) are very confident about long-term growth. Russian CEOs have gone from the most optimistic to least optimistic in the space of 12 months. Confidence is also down in other oil-producing nations such as the Middle East, Nigeria and Venezuela. To view PwC's news release go to

The number of Scottish firms failing in 2014 rose by 8.7%. According to analysis of the latest figures by BDO LLP, the number of Scottish firms failing in 2014 rose by 8.7%. The latest Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) figures show that 896 Scottish companies went bust during 2014 compared with 824 in 2013. Bryan Jackson, business restructuring partner with BDO, explained: "The rise in the number of corporate insolvencies during 2014 is unwelcome, but not unexpected. Although the numbers are high, the size and scale of these businesses may be relatively small. However, it is true to say that many companies have simply been existing, barely maintaining solvency in the hope and expectation that an upturn in the market will be around the corner." Looking ahead, BDO expects that corporate insolvency numbers will rise or remain very high in the coming year. To view BDO's news release go to

The number of companies going through an insolvency process in England and Wales is almost down to pre-financial crisis levels. According to latest figures from the Insolvency Service, 1,790 administrations were recorded in England and Wales during 2014. This is a decrease of 24.3% compared with 2013, and the lowest total since 2004. In addition, a total of 14,040 companies were liquidated during 2014, the lowest figure since 2007 - although compulsory liquidations increased slightly by 2.9% to 3,738. Louise Brittain, Council Member of R3, commented: “The number of companies going through an insolvency process is almost down to pre-financial crisis levels, although it’s taken seven years to get to this point." However, she also cautioned: "How big an impact eventual interest rate rises will have on businesses remains unknown. Although initial rate rises are likely to be very small, there are many businesses already at their financial limits". To view R3's news release go to

Confidence of international sales growth on the rise among UK SME online retailers.A study by Royal Mail has found that 65% of UK SME online retailers are aiming to increase international sales in 2015. This is up two thirds on a year ago when just 39% said they were planning to increase overseas sales in 2014, with the US overtaking Europe as the top target for online retailers looking for new international markets. Canada ranked third in new international target markets for UK online retailers, and 15% of SMEs said they would target Russia this year. To view the Royal Mail's news release go to

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