Credit Control

It seems only fitting that Halloween week should be the moment when Blockbuster Video - one of the UK's biggest zombie businesses - reveals that, for the second time in ten months, it is lurching back into the corporate graveyard.

Zombie businesses are those that are only just surviving, but would be unlikely or unable to continue to do so if there were any kind of substantial shock to their ongoing operations.

That pretty much sums up Blockbuster's situation, as current owners Gordon Brothers Europe have been unable to bring the company into the 21st century; former US parent company Dish still own the digital rights to the brand, and competitors like LoveFilm, Netflix and Sky have already cornered the British market for streaming films.

The Centre for Retail Research has published its latest Who's Gone Bust? report, giving an insight into how retail companies have been affected by five years of economic turbulence.

Worryingly for all involved in the sector, it appears that conditions are getting worse; 2012 saw 54 companies fail, matching the previous highest total set in 2008, and with 39 brands failing by the end of August alone, 2013 is on track to be even worse.

Britain's small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) contribute some 99.9% to the private sector - but are facing losses of around £3.7 billion due to poor credit control and debt collection processes.

A report from Exact, a provider of business and finance software, tallies up the costs of non-payment to UK SMEs, with some fairly alarming figures for individual examples of unpaid invoices.

A recently published Late Payments Report makes 11 recommendations that MPs believe could help small businesses to receive what they are owed more promptly from their big-business customers.

MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth Debbie Abrahams convened and chaired a cross-party parliamentary inquiry into the issue of prompt payment for small businesses, which heard evidence from several large FTSE companies, as well as affected SMEs.

Remember our old friend the Supply Chain Finance Scheme? Well, in the past couple of weeks, it's been making headlines once again - this time thanks to Carillion, the facilities management and construction services company.

Company impersonation fraud is big business these days as scammers, fraudsters and criminals increasingly realize the advantages this type of fraud has over the more "traditional" types of fraud that target individuals.

We regularly deal with businesses that have fallen victim to this type of fraud and do what we can to help, but it is rare that a customer scammer will attempt to draw us into this kind of activity.  But that is exactly what happened to us and our debt collection affiliates in Germany recently.

The government's much-anticipated Business Bank got a kickstart of its own in the 2013 Budget, with the news that at least some of its measures are due to be introduced ahead of schedule.

But while a £300 million investment programme for SMEs was officially launched on April 10th by business secretary Vince Cable, just how far does it go to give small businesses the boost they need to grease the wheels of the UK's jammed economy?

Thursday, 21 March 2013 14:58

Director Ban for family of Tax Dodgers

A married couple and their son have been banned as company directors after failing to pay more than £186,000 in tax.  Heather & Lance Shepherd and their son James Shepherd, who ran a company called Shepherd Security Ltd in Preston have been disqualified from acting as directors for a total of 15 years following an investigation by the insolvency service.

The so-called 'Late Payment Directive', officially named Directive 2011/7/EU on Combating Late Payment in Commercial Transactions, is due to come into effect in less than a month's time, on March 16th 2013.

With just 24 days to go until that time, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has revealed the results of its recent consultation on the Directive, along with the finalised set of regulations that will be introduced in March.

The Institute of Credit Management (ICM) and business minister Michael Fallon have warned that it is "crazy" to fail to credit check new and existing customers.

Each month, the ICM publishes a new top tip to help safeguard small businesses' cash flow, and at the end of January its latest advice, written in collaboration with Mr Fallon, was released.

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