Business Information: Latest Reports and Business Shorts
UK business distress at record low. According to the latest Business Distress Index from R3, levels of business distress in the UK are at a record low, with only a quarter (24%) of businesses reporting a key indicator of distress. Every indicator of distress tracked by R3 is at its lowest since the research began: 10% of businesses are experiencing decreased profits, 11% are experiencing falling sales volumes, 6% are seeing market share fall, 8% are regularly using their maximum overdraft, and 6% are making redundancies. In addition, smaller businesses are recording the greatest drop in signs of distress, with only 20% of sole traders reporting one or more signs of distress - compared to 50% in November 2014. Phillip Sykes, President of R3, commented: “Although the largest businesses continue to experience the fewest signs of distress, it is encouraging to see difficulties for smaller businesses easing. It’s been a particularly difficult few years for many sole traders and they’re only now beginning to see recovery.” To read R3's news release go to

CBI expects any slowing in UK GDP growth to be short-lived. The CBI has advised that although the UK economy seemed to start 2015 on the back foot, with the GDP rising by a modest 0.3% on the quarter — the slowest pace in over 2 years, this is at odds with their own findings. "For example, many construction companies are reporting a positive start to this year, at cross purposes with the official data which suggest the sector has fallen back into recession. And the service sector seems resilient: growth in business volumes in the business and professional services sector ramped up significantly to its fastest in over nine years in our May Service Sector Survey, while growth in consumer services has remained firm." As a result, the CBI expects any slowing in momentum to be short-lived and growth to rally in the second quarter of 2015, with average rates of 0.6% a quarter thereafter. To read the CBI's news release go to

More UK businesses are taking matters into their own hands when it comes to tackling late payment. According to new analysis by Lovetts, confidence to take a stand against poor paying customers seems to be growing as Lovetts has seen a gradual but encouraging rise in the number of businesses using the late payment legislation to claim compensation and interest from their customers for overdue invoices. In 2005, just 1% of Lovetts clients were claiming compensation, now the proportion has risen to 24%. Charles Wilson, CEO of Lovetts said: "These aren’t empty threats – we are now being instructed to pursue compensation and interest on almost 1 in 4 claims to recover debt. What businesses need to understand is that the entitlement to claim interest and compensation remains for six years on each and every invoice paid late, unless clear assent is proven against the claimant. That means you can recover compensation of between £40-£100 per invoice plus reasonable costs on any debts which are now paid, but were paid late over the previous six years." To read Lovetts' news release go to

Scotland’s economy will continue to grow in 2015 but has fallen out of step with the UK growth rate. According to EY’s latest Scottish ITEM Club report, while the Scottish economy matched UK growth in 2014, the expectation for this year is for an undershoot of UK growth of around 0.5%. However, Scotland’s predicted 2.2% growth for 2015 still represents a small half year upgrade to the original forecast of 2% highlighted at the end of 2014. “We previously predicted that while Scotland’s economy enjoyed its best year since the financial crisis in 2014 with 2.6% growth, the pace of expansion would ease. The resulting short-term stalling of the Scottish economy, compared to the rest of the UK, stems from a combination of factors”, says Dougie Adams, senior economic advisor to the EY Scottish Club. “The downside of the oil price fall is much more marked for Scotland than for the rest of the UK; the Scottish consumer appears to be pausing for breath; and the high employment rate could point to emerging capacity constraints.” To view the news release on EY's website go to

Billions in working capital is not being maximised across UK businesses. New research from Grant Thornton UK suggests that there is over £125 billion of excess cash tied up in working capital for UK headquartered companies that could be released through better focus on cash flow management. The firm's latest Capital Thinking report looks at the working capital performance of over 4,000 UK companies and finds that the companies included in the research (with annual turnover of over £75 million), held an average of £21.5 million excess working capital, which could be released to support growth without affecting operations. The research also highlights that delivering £1 million of turnover growth for a large company requires an additional £38,000 of cash investment in working capital. Whereas, for small companies this funding requirement nearly doubles to £73,000. To view Grant Thornton's news release with a link to the full report go to

UK small businesses are in a robust mood, says FSB. The latest FSB Small Business Index (SBI) reveals that small business confidence has picked up markedly in the second quarter. Nearly two thirds (65.3%) of small businesses aspire to grow moderately or rapidly in the next three months - the highest figure ever seen in the SBI. The SBI also found that there has been a reported rise in small firms who are exporting, with 28.6% exporting this quarter, up from a consistent 25%. Rob Harbron, Managing Economist of Cebr commented: "These results give much cause for confidence and show that the UK's small business population will be instrumental in supporting economic growth in 2015." To read the FSB's news release go to

Strong UK retail sales in May point to best year for the sector since 2007 - EY ITEM Club comments. Martin Beck, senior economic advisor to the EY ITEM Club, commented: “After a strong rise in retail sales volumes in April, sales volumes rose again in May leaving the annual growth rate at 4.6%, the 26th consecutive year-on-year rise. Food volumes saw their strongest performance since last December and fuel purchases rose by 0.3%, with demand supported by a 10% annual fall in petrol prices. He concluded that overall the retail sector’s prospects remain at their brightest since 2007. To view EY's news release go to

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