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A North West business recovery expert has outlined a four-point plan for small businesses feeling the chill from the ‘Beast from the East’.

Paul Barber, chair of the North West branch of insolvency and restructuring trade body R3, was speaking after the recent extreme weather kept shoppers away from high streets, disrupted supply chains, caused projects to be delayed or canceled, and forced many businesses to close early or stay closed altogether.

He says that the economic impact of the cold spell could be much longer-lasting, especially for smaller independent retailers who are already under pressure.

Recent R3 research found that 37% of North West businesses already had a higher than normal risk of entering insolvency within the next 12 months in February 2018, compared to 24% of firms 12 months previously.

Paul Barber, a partner at insolvency practitioners Begbies Traynor, says: “The first quarter of the year is already traditionally the most challenging for many businesses, and while the present situation may be difficult enough to manage for big firms, for smaller businesses or independent retailers, even just these few days of disruption could be enough to tip them over the edge.

“Fortunately there are more options available than ever before for helping business owners resolve difficult financial situations, and the sooner they start looking at what these are, the more choices they will have available.”

He offers the following advice:

• Take advice from a qualified source as soon as possible.
• Keep a tight control and overview of cash flow as this will help demonstrate the continuing viability of the business to all parties.
• Do all you can to get paid for any outstanding invoices within the agreed time limit.
• Communicate with both your bank and creditors, showing them how you’re looking to resolve your problems and getting them to buy into the strategy that you’re putting in place.

Paul adds: “The financial chill of the ‘Beast from the East’ is likely to be felt for some time but with the right approach, it should be possible for many struggling businesses to make it through.”

R3 is the trade association for the UK’s insolvency and restructuring professionals who help to save hundreds of troubled North West businesses and the thousands of jobs they support every year.