Business Information
UK High Street sees fourth poor December in a row. Figures released by BDO have revealed that the UK’s high street failed to rally at the end of a dismal year of trading. December’s like-for-like sales growth was -0.1% according to BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker, which means that the UK has now seen four consecutive Decembers with no high street sales growth. Furthermore, while December’s decline of -0.1% may appear marginal, it is coming off of a negative base of -5.3% for the same month last year - in itself the worst month since December 2008. Sophie Michael, Head of Retail and Wholesale at BDO LLP, said: “Coming at a critical juncture, this fourth negative December in succession highlights the magnitude of the challenge that lies ahead for 2017.” To read BDO's news release go to
Insolvencies start to creep up as currency pressures squeeze UK businesses. New analysis from KPMG reveals that 2016 saw the reversal of a six-year downward trend in levels of insolvency for British businesses. The numbers, taken from notices in the London Gazette, show that 1,174 companies, or groups of companies, entered into administration across the UK during 2016, compared with the 15-year low of 1,111 in the previous year. Looking at which sectors were most vulnerable in 2016, the figures reveal that the construction industry was particularly impacted as increasing costs for imported raw materials squeezed profit margins. In total, 174 firms within the construction sector entered into administration over the course of the year. To read KPMG's news release go to
UK start-up numbers suffer five-year fall. Start-up numbers have fallen significantly in the last five years according to Lloyds Bank analysis. The findings reveal that 19% fewer new businesses were started up in the UK in November 2016 compared to November 2011. Regionally, Wales has seen the largest decline in new start-ups falling by 26% between a rolling 12 months from November 2011 compared to November 2016. In contrast, the business climate appears to be more positive in Scotland with a much smaller decline in new business openings of just 3% over the past five years. England has also been hit hard, declining by 20%. As this is where the greatest volume of new start businesses are launched, this equates to nearly 100,000 fewer new businesses created in 2016 compared to 2011. To read Lloyds Bank's news release go to
Ireland takes its place as Europe's fastest growing economy. According to a report from, 'Annual Review 2017 - Business Barometer', Ireland has undergone an extraordinary recovery and has taken its place as Europe’s fastest growing economy. In 2016, 20,997 Irish company start-ups were recorded in 2016, the second highest figure for new companies seen in Ireland in the last 36 years and 8% up on 2015's total of 19,501. Additional positive news is that the number of Irish companies that collapsed in 2016 decreased to 984 -10% less than the previous year. This is the first time fewer than 1,000 insolvencies have been recorded in a single year since 2008. To read the report go to
Global growth is forecast to accelerate moderately in 2017. The World Bank report, 'Global Economic Prospects', has predicted that although the global outlook is clouded by uncertainty, global economic should accelerate moderately to 2.7% in 2017 after a post-crisis low last year. Growth in advanced economies is expected to edge up to 1.8%, while growth in emerging market and developing economies as a whole should pick up to 4.2% this year from 3.4% in the year just ended. “After years of disappointing global growth, we are encouraged to see stronger economic prospects on the horizon,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said. To read the World Bank's news release with a link to the full report go to
Global growth of 3.1% in 2016 was the weakest since 2008–09. The IMF's latest update to its World Economic Outlook (WEO) advises that its earlier projections that global growth would pick up in 2017 and 2018 from last year’s lackluster pace, looks increasingly likely to be realised. The IMF now forecasts that global growth will rise to a rate of 3.4% in 2017 and 3.6% in 2018. At the same time, it notes that uncertainty has risen with a wider dispersion of risks to this short-term forecast, with those risks still tilted to the downside. The WEO also reports that global growth of 3.1% in 2016 was the weakest since 2008–09, owing to a challenging first half marked initially by turmoil in world financial markets. To read the IMF's news release go to
60% of UK SME's invoices are unpaid within the debtor period. According to a new report commissioned by Amicus Commercial Finance, 61% of invoices issued by UK SMEs remain unpaid within the debtor day period and 16% of invoices remain unpaid after 90 days. The study underlines the extent to which SMEs often rely on a small number of customers and delayed payments from these can have serious consequences; according to the findings, SMEs' top three customers on average account for almost half (49%) of their overall revenue. As well as the financial implications, Amicus Commercial Finance examined the psychological impact on business owners caused by lengthy payment delays: 28% said it has caused them considerable stress and anxiety and 10% admitted they became scared their business would go bust. To read Amicus Commercial Finance's news release go to
UK retail administrations fall for fourth year in a row, but a rise in larger insolvencies reveals cause for concern.  According to Deloitte, the number of retailers entering administration fell from 96 in 2015 to 92 in 2016 - a decrease of 4%. However, for the first time in four years there has been an uptick in the number of large multi-site retail administration appointments, rising from seven in 2015 to 11 in 2016. Across all industry sectors, the total number of administrations in England and Wales fell from 1,147 companies in 2015 to 1,110 last year, down 3%. Four industry sectors reported an increase in administrations, with the greatest increase being Mining, Energy & Agriculture with a 22% increase, followed by Financial Services with a 16% increase in administrations. To read Deloitte's news release go to
UK CFOs pessimistic About Brexit. A Brexit survey commissioned by D&B in November 2016 indicates that corporations in the UK will reduce future investment as they consider Brexit to be financially damaging for their companies’ growth models. The effects will be especially felt after the government invokes Article 50 in March 2017. 64% of survey respondents either strongly agreed or agreed with the statement that Brexit has negatively impacted business growth potential. Furthermore, 58% support the view that Brexit will eventually have financially damaging repercussions. To read D&B's news release go to
Rising costs start to bite as UK SMEs look to tighten their belts. Over a fifth (22%) of UK SMEs signalled rising costs as their biggest concern going into 2017, findings from Bibby Financial Services’ Q4 SME Confidence Tracker reveal. The number of businesses that see rising costs as a significant challenge has doubled over the past 12 months, underlining the impact of a Brexit-driven rise in inflation and depreciation of the pound. These fears are of particular concern for manufacturers with almost a third (29%) citing this as their biggest challenge. Increasing competition (18%) and late payments (11%) were other key challenges that SMEs highlighted as impacting their businesses. To read Bibby Financial Services’ news release go to
The UK ranks as the fourth most important country for growth. According to PwC’s 20th annual CEO Survey, 89% of UK CEOs say they are confident of their company’s growth in the year ahead, up from 85% in 2016, and above the 85% global figure and 77% in Germany. The bullishness of UK CEOs is not just in their short-term outlook; 95% are confident about their business’s growth prospects over the next three years (compared to 91% globally and 83% in Germany). The survey also found that business leaders from 16 countries see the UK as more important than last year for their short-term growth prospects. CEOs in the US, China, Germany and Switzerland are among those more enthusiastic about investing in the UK. Overall, the UK is seen as the fourth most important country for growth, behind the US, China and Germany. To read PwC's news release go to
UK Retail Sales Monitor shows a strong finish to a roller-coaster year. BRC-KPMG's Retail Sales Monitor for 2016 indicates that UK retail sales increased by 1.0% on a like-for-like basis from December 2015, when they had increased 0.1% from the preceding year. Over the three months to December, Food sales increased 1.1% on a like-for-like basis and 2.4% on a total basis - the highest 3-month average Total growth since September 2013. Non-Food retail sales in the UK rose 1.1% on a like-for-like basis and 1.3% on a total basis - the lowest Non-Food 12-month average Total growth since October 2012. Online sales grew 7.2% while In-store sales declined 1.2% on a Total basis and 1.4% on a like-for-like basis. To read BRC's news release go to
UK business borrowing set for big increase in 2017. Recent research has shown UK SME borrowing is set to exceed £50 billion in 2017. Small businesses borrowed an average of £34,375 in 2016, but are set on borrowing up to one-fifth more in 2017 – with a survey of 1,000 SME owners revealing nearly two in five aim to borrow £100,000 or more, and one-quarter are planning to use £250,000 for fresh business investment this year. Furthermore, a significant proportion (one in fifty SMEs) are intending to borrow even larger amounts of £1,000,000, pushing the projected borrowing amount this new year beyond £50 billion. To read Hilton Baird's article go to
Global business survey finds strong increase in optimism heading into 2017 - except in the UK. Research from the Grant Thornton International Business Report reveals that global business optimism at the end of Q4 2016 stands at net 38%. This is an increase of five percentage points from Q3 and the highest level since Q3 2015. In the US, optimism has increased from 43% to 54% - and the trend is repeated around the globe. The world’s two other big economic blocs, China (30% to 46%) and the EU (28% to 34%), have reported similar jumps. However, in the UK, business optimism remains substantially below levels seen this time last year, following a significant drop in confidence after the UK's vote to leave the European Union. EU countries with strong trading ties to the UK also reported significant drops in confidence this quarter. To read Grant Thornton's news release go to
UK's small business confidence bounces back to pre-referendum levels. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has revealed that UK small business confidence in the last quarter bounced back to the level reported before the EU referendum campaign began. The FSB’s Small Business Index has now moved into positive territory, which means that more small businesses feel confident than those that feel the opposite.  However, although confidence is positive and there are areas of strong performance, most small firms are not seeing this feeding through to profits. Profitability has dropped for the second quarter in a row. In addition, investment intentions remain subdued and have fallen compared to last year, with the cost of doing business continuing to rise. To read the FSB's news release go to
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