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Business distress is on the decline, with concerns about debts diminishing and fear of insolvency at its lowest level for a year, according to a quarterly analysis of small companies’ financial positions.

However, the research, carried out for Business Club by insolvency trade body R3, found the retail sector and the smallest companies are less likely to be sharing in the improving fortunes.

Almost one in 10 retail business (8pc) reported that they are “very likely” to go into insolvency in the next 12 months.

The number of businesses worrying about their debt levels and insolvency fell to its lowest level for a year. R3 found 41pc of businesses said they hadn’t experienced any signs of its 13 key “distress indicators” over the last quarter, compared to 28pc in the previous quarter and 25pc last year.

Frances Coulson, R3’s president said: “while [growth] remains sluggish, [this demonstrates] the resilience of the businesses that have pulled through the recession. Businesses have moved to a stronger footing.”

However, smaller companies were found to be suffering, with decreased profits, sales and margins and cash flow difficulties much more pronounced among companies with annual revenues of less than £5m.

The research also found more evidence of the pain being experienced on the high street, with 58pc of small retailers experiencing a decrease in profits, 24pc higher than the cross sector average.

Just under half suffered a fall in sales volume, while almost one in three (31pc) said their market share had suffered.

Mr. Coulson said: “Stores are discounting their prices to get people through their doors at a time when inflation and rising commodity prices have increased costs.”

One in four retailers said they had cash flow difficulties, 9pc higher than the survey average.

“This suggests that many are holding a large amount of stock or have slow moving stock.”


Standout firm known for its personal insolvency work for clients including private companies, individuals and governmental institutions. Frequently acts for insolvency practitioners, assisting with the realisation of assets, both in the UK and abroad.

Chambers and Partners

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