Yorkshire Businesses Show Signs Of Distress

Insolvency Specialist Comments On New Figures

02.08.2011

New figures issued by insolvency trade body R3 show that 68 per cent of businesses in  the Yorkshire and Humber region are showing at least one sign of distress, a higher rate than any other region outside London.

The retail sector is experiencing significantly higher signs of distress than any other sector, with retail businesses more likely than any other to be concerned about their debt levels (41 per cent), according to the latest research. Nationally, eight percent of those in the retail sector say that they are very likely to enter into insolvency in the next twelve months – this compares with a cross-sector average of two percent.

The latest figures show that six in ten (58 per cent) retailers are experiencing a decrease in profit which is twenty-four per cent higher than the cross sector average. Close to half (48 per cent) of retailers have suffered a fall in sales volume, with a third (31 per cent) saying that they have seen a fall in market share. A quarter of retailers say they are having cash flow difficulties – 9 per cent more than the cross-sector average.

Andrew Walker, chair of R3 in Yorkshire and partner at Irwin Mitchell, comments:

“The numbers show that we are bearing the brunt of the tough times here in this region, and Yorkshire businesses are the most likely outside the capital to be suffering, in particular retailing is being hit very hard indeed.

“The pressure on retailers is two-fold. As consumers have less money to spend, stores are discounting their prices to get people through their doors; this is at a time when inflation and rising commodity prices have increased retailers costs. Given the importance of retailing to our region, it is extremely worrying that nationally one in four are experiencing cash flow difficulties. This suggests that many are holding a large amount of stock or have slow moving stock.”

“Unfortunately this year cash-strapped consumers are likely to hold off until the Christmas sales before making significant purchases thus putting further strain on retailers in the coming quarter.  This bleak outlook is coupled with a trend that sees creditors becoming generally less supportive, with only around a quarter of businesses stating that banks, HMRC or trade creditors have shown support in the past quarter, a figure that is down from over 40 per cent just three months ago.”   
 
The findings show that, across the sectors, the number of businesses experiencing distress has fallen however levels of distress are significantly higher amongst retail businesses. In fact, retail is one of the sectors which R3 members have reported the highest increase in new insolvency cases, amongst these the high profile cases include Habitat, TJ Hughes and Jane Norman.