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UK business distress hits new record low – R3. According to new research by R3, the level of business distress in the UK has hit a new record low, with just 17% of businesses reporting a key indicator of distress. This finding represents a sizable fall in the level of distress from the last survey in September (28%) and replaces the previous record low of 24% in April 2015. When the survey began in March 2012, 64% of businesses were reporting indicators of distress. Overall, larger businesses are faring much better than their smaller counterparts - and the gap has widened since the last survey. To read R3's news release go to
Positive economic growth but UK manufacturing exports slump. The British Chambers of Commerce's (BCC) latest Quarterly Economic Survey shows that although most key balances for the services sector dipped slightly again on the previous quarter, the sector continues to remain resilient in the face of global headwinds. In contrast however, the manufacturing sector continues to struggle. Domestic and export sales and order balances have now fallen well below their pre-recession levels in 2007, suggesting that the sector is close to stagnation. David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, commented: “While we must not forget the strengths of the UK economy - with higher growth than in most G7 economies and with a dynamic and flexible labour market - the recovery is still fragile." To read the BCC's news release go to
Less than two in five UK SMEs expect to grow in Q1 2016. According to Bibby Financial Services only 36% of UK SMEs expect to grow in the first quarter of 2016, while almost one in five (17%) small businesses surveyed expect sales to decline in the first three months of the year. Of all parts of the UK, Scotland appears worst hit with only 29% of Scottish business owners and decision-makers expecting sales to increase, compared to the national average of 36%. David Postings, Global Chief Executive of Bibby Financial Services, said: “The Q4 Tracker presents a gloomier outlook than seen before. While in Quarter 3, small business owners were sensing dark clouds on the horizon, they now appear to be preparing for the storm." To read Bibby Financial Services' news release go to
UK businesses end year in a challenging financial state as a difficult 2016 looms. Begbies Traynor has warned that new data reveals that UK companies are bracing themselves for a difficult 2016, after finishing 2015 in a challenging financial state. According to Begbies Traynor's Red Flag Alert research for Q4 2015, which monitors the financial health of UK companies, 268,898 UK companies closed the year suffering ‘Significant’ financial distress. This is a 17% increase compared to the same period in the prior year (Q4 2014: 229,232 companies), and the most marked annual rise in distress since Q2 2014. The research reveals that all sectors of the economy saw an increase in financial distress over the past 12 months. To read Begbies Traynor's news release go to
The UK high street suffers its worst Christmas for 7 years. BDO’s latest monthly High Street Sales Tracker (HSST) indicates the worst Christmas trading figures on the UK high street since 2008, with a massive 5.3% drop in year-on-year sales for December – the worst monthly results since December 2008. Furthermore, the disastrous end to the year hit all corners of the retail sector. Sales of lifestyle goods were down 3.7% year-on-year and fashion stores crowned a miserable third quarter with a like-for-like sales drop of 5.4%. Homewares rallied with 16% growth, but BDO’s HSST index for non-store sales, while positive, grew at the slowest rate since BDO’s records for non-store began in 2010 (+7.5%). To read BDO's news release go to
Weak pickup in global growth, with risks pivoting to emerging markets. The IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook (WEO) Update has advised that the pickup in global growth is weak and uneven across economies, with risks now tilted toward the emerging markets. Advanced economies will see a modest recovery, while emerging market and developing economies face the new reality of slower growth. As a result, the WEO Update now projects global growth at 3.4% this year and 3.6% in 2017, slightly lower than the forecast issued in October 2015. To read the IMF's news release with a link to the full report go to
British businesses suffer due to £500 billion delay in unpaid invoices. According to the latest Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking Business in Britain research, UK SMEs are owed more than £500 billion by customers – up 70% in two years - and a third of firms expect the problem of late or slow payments to get worse. The research also found that 17% of SMEs admit to having cashflow problems, and 31% said that late payment was the biggest cause of cashflow difficulties. The average SME is now owed £100,000 in outstanding invoices (2014: £60,000) and 25% of businesses (are owed £200,000 (2014: 10%). To read Lloyds Banks' press release go to
FSB uncovers North-South divide in small business confidence. The latest Small Business Index (SBI) from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) for Q4 2015 shows a growing gap in confidence between businesses in Scotland, North East England and Wales and those in the Midlands and the South of England. In the last 12 months, smaller firms in the North East, Yorkshire, Scotland and Wales have all shown a year-on-year decline in confidence. In Wales, confidence has dropped into negative territory for the first time in two years. In Scotland, confidence levels are at their lowest levels since the start of 2013. Elsewhere confidence levels have remained stable, supported in particular by firms in technology and business/professional services. To read the FSB's news release go to
County Court Judgments (CCJs) reach alarming new levels. According to Lovetts, there has been an alarming increase in cashflow difficulties faced by UK businesses during the past year, exceeding levels last seen during the recession. Lovetts' own data suggests that the number of cases where a claim has converted to a CCJ was 44% in 2015 - up from 38% in 2014. Official figures also show that in 2015, 56% of County Court Claims to recover debt resulted in a CCJ because the debtor was unable to pay - the highest level seen in over 6 years. To read Lovetts' news release go to
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