The collapse of construction giant Carillion could spell havoc for the UK’s small business economy, the country’s SME trade body has warned.

The massive building services conglomerate has been forced into liquidation with debts in excess of £2bn, putting 20,000 jobs at risk. As a major government contractor, there are immediate concerns over infrastructure and maintenance projects covering schools, hospitals and transport.

Wholesaler Palmer & Harvey has entered administration after failing to restructure significant debts owed to suppliers. The Palmer & Harvey Group, the UK’s fifth-largest privately owned business and the country’s largest tobacco supplier, had been in takeover talks with Carlyle, the private equity firm.

But after talks broke down, directors from several Palmer & Harvey group companies made an application to London’s High Court to enter administration to help ease an increasingly unmanageable debt burden.

New figures have revealed that UK construction contractors have been hit by £700 million in cash retention losses caused by insolvencies in the past three years.

The figures, which come from a report commissioned by the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), have rightly been described as ‘shocking’ by the trade body the SEC Group.

The SEC claims that the brunt of those losses have been borne by small sub-contractors who, sitting further down the feeding chain, are less likely to recover monies owed to them if a client or main contractor goes bust.

After Monarch went bankrupt and left thousands of passengers stranded, it looks like Air Berlin, the second largest German airline, looks likely to be the next carrier to close down operations.

While Air Berlin is fizzing out slowly, in contrast to Monarch’s overnight collapse, as many as 9,000 redundancies are expected once it finally winds up with many small and medium sized suppliers braced for significant losses.

It is every supplier’s worst nightmare. You have finally secured a lucrative contract with a big name global brand, giving you what feels like a sense of security and assurance for future earnings.

Then, all of a sudden, the unthinkable happens - the company goes bust. From a position of relative comfort, you now find yourself at the back of a long queue chasing unpaid invoices you may well never recover.

Depending on how reliant your business is on that one big client, you could easily find yourself in jeopardy too, unable to absorb the loss.

Reports that Canadian subscription box supplier Nerd Block has gone to the wall is bad news for an army of suppliers waiting on months of unpaid invoices.

Subscription boxes are big business, and the market is growing by the day. With the success of major brands such as Loot Crate charging £20 or more for a monthly box of goodies delivered to your door, similar companies have sprung up around the world.

Vertu Corporation Limited, the well-known British manufacturer of luxury smartphones, has finally filed for insolvency after being passed between owners since 2012.

The company was known for its spangly, jewel-encrusted handsets which came with equally ludicrous price tags. Its entry-level handset cost a cool £6,500; prices stretched to more than £250,000 for the garish Vertu Signature Cobra.

Taking the decision to stop supplying a client can be one of the hardest decisions any company has to take. With every piece of business so hard won it can be difficult to take a firm line with your credit control and potentially prejudice further income.

But when a customer persistently refuses to pay in full and on time, sometimes you are left with little option but to act.

Along with traffic wardens, politicians, journalists and merchant bankers, debt collection is one of those professions that has a perennial problem with its public image.

But while the unfortunate association between debt collection and burly, menacing men using dubious means to take money from the poor and unfortunate may still persist, as with many things in life, there is significant gap between perception and reality.

Credit Notes are essentially a negative invoice used to rectify mistakes or credit amounts raised in your sales invoice. They may be used to credit all or part of an invoice depending on the circumstances and serve as an accounting record for both parties to counter the invoicing error.

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