‘Protect yourself’ SMEs told as more go to wall

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LATEST figures show more and more shops are going to the wall, while a Bury St Edmunds firm is urging SMEs (small to medium-sized enterprises) to protect themselves against non payment by customers.

The Insolvency Service’s latest set of statistics show a 55 per cent jump in retailers going into administration in the first quarter of this year, compared to last year, while the number of company voluntary arrangements has also risen by 30 per cent.

Justin Zatouroff, restructuring partner at KPMG in East Anglia, said: “The pain is not just being felt on the high street, the overall number of administrations went up by 23 per cent in the first quarter of the year, compared with the last quarter of 2011.”

Part of the pain is the result of late payments to small businesses. Towergate Insurance in Bury said new research showed that more than 80 per cent of small businesses were still being paid late by customers, waiting more than 30 days for payment, while one in six had to wait more than 60 days.

The firm has launched a new affordable credit insurance scheme designed to meet the cash flow, credit and investment needs of SMEs.

Paul Whittaker, chief executive of Towergate Insurance, said: “With the economic outlook remaining uncertain, SMEs should look at ways to protect against the non-payment by customers which could be the difference between staying in business and going under.

“A sound credit check insurance facility should provide local businesses an affordable solution at a time when they need it most.”

MP David Ruffley, meanwhile, will be speaking to businesses in Bury on the Budget and the British economy, at the Farmers Club lunch at 12.45pm today, before meeting with Bury members of the Federation of Small Businesses at 2.30pm.

He said: “I am looking forward to meeting businessmen and women to discuss important Budget changes which are affecting the Suffolk economy.”