Manufacturing Sector Hit by Payment Delays

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Atraidus’s Payment Practices Barometer shows that quarter 1 of 2012 saw the manufacturing sector wait an average of 32.4 days to receive payment. This is over 13 days longer than the financial sector which has the lowest average waiting time of 19.3 days.

Additionally the manufacturing sector also had the largest amount of uncollectable payments from business to business customers, with 4% of due payments being written off as uncollectable in the UK. Even taking these figures into consideration over 45% of manufacturing businesses in the UK still chose to supply products on a credit basis as a means of establishing long term relationships for domestic trade.

Alun Sweeney, Director of Atradius UK & Ireland, said:

“There is no doubt that manufacturing firms are finding the climate difficult to trade in, as our report shows the sector is increasingly cited as having the longest payment delays and the highest proportion of unrecoverable payments. Unfortunately, this does not come as a surprise when almost half of all respondents in the manufacturing sector revealed that they are supplying products on credit and offering longer payment terms, despite the challenging economic climate faced by customers. The worry is that although these techniques may sustain business in the short term, cash flow issues could well impact their stability in the long-run.”

In response to slowing economic growth, the report revealed that all British businesses are expecting an increase in trade credit risk and as a result are searching for new ways to reduce payment delays and defaults.

Of all UK firms, those in manufacturing are most likely to incentivise customers to pay their invoices early, 45% versus 38.6% on average, as a means to recoup payments on time. However, Atradius warns that this kind of credit management tool can be problematic as it offers no recompense for non-payments.

Alun Sweeney continued:

“It’s encouraging to see that, despite having the highest volumes of unpaid invoices, British manufacturers are using credit management tools in order to try and keep financial damage to a minimum. Although tools like early payment discounts are used as easily-achievable ways of increasing timely payments and recouping costs, they are not risk free and can easily lead businesses into financial difficulties. With customers’ own cash flows being squeezed, along with challenging trading conditions, these tools aren’t able to safely guarantee payments or compensation in the event of payment defaults.”

“Businesses in the UK manufacturing sector need to take precautions to protect themselves from payment risks, using tools such as frequent checks of their customer’s creditworthiness, dunning and trade credit insurance, so each transaction is protected against losses, particularly in the face of insolvency and protracted payment defaults.”

“Atradius has intelligence on over 100 million businesses across the globe so is able to offer accurate real-time analysis to protect businesses against the risk of non-payment, which helps secure business confidence. It’s this kind of protection that can help protect the UK manufacturing sector from the risk of encountering serious cash flow problems that can be disastrous in today’s difficult economic climate.”

The complete Spring 2012 Atradius Payment Practices Barometer can be found in the Publications section of the Atradius website on www.atradius.co.uk

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