Companies face the chill after Beast from the East sequel

A plane on a snowy runway at Birmingham Airport (Credit: Birmingham Airport)

The sequel to the Beast from the East caused disruption across the West Midlands this weekend, but the chill could cause weaker businesses to catch more than a cold.

Problems this weekend ranged from the closure of Alton Towers’ rollercoasters, flight delays at Birmingham Airport, and the postponement of sporting fixtures, including Coventry Bears’ Challenge Cup fifth-round tie.

But the impact of the two snow blasts this month will have increased the chill felt by businesses that were already struggling.

It reduced footfall to high streets and leisure venues, disrupted supply chains and caused projects and events to be delayed or cancelled.

R3 Midlands chairman Chris Radford

Chris Radford, Midlands chairman of restructuring trade body R3 and partner at Gateley, said: “The first quarter of the year is traditionally the most challenging for businesses in many different sectors, and while severe weather may be difficult enough to manage for major name firms, it can certainly put a serious additional burden on small business finances.”

He said that while the chill is quick to thaw, the economic impact of the two ‘Beasts from the East’ could remain, especially for smaller independent stores and businesses whose finances are constantly stretched.

February research figures from R3 Midlands found that more than 100,000 companies based in the West Midlands already have an elevated risk of insolvency, an increase of 50% on a year previously.

Economist Howard Archer has estimated that the severe weather could reduce GDP growth by as much as 0.2 percentage points.

Radford added: “The financial chill of severe weather can be felt in our region long after it has gone, but with the right approach, it should be possible for many struggling businesses to find their way through to calmer financial conditions.”