Region’s SMEs facing £566m loss

THE region’s SMEs are facing losses of more than £566m from the worst winter in decades, according to research by Lloyds TSB Commercial.

The findings reveal that 73% of small and medium-sized firms in Yorkshire have been affected by the freezing conditions that caused chaos across many parts of Britain.

Two-fifths have been directly affected with their premises being closed or cut off and 50% have suffered indirectly with disrupted supply channels or obstructed delivery routes.

Sixteen per cent were lucky enough to emerge unaffected and 11% managed to take advantage of the conditions and prospered during the winter months.

With the severe weather making travel nearly impossible in many places, many SMEs were left with no option but to shut up shop. Around 30% were forced to close down for at least a day, while 17% had to halt business for at least five days.
The disruption caused by the harsh winter conditions has had a direct financial impact on the bottom line for 61% of SMEs in Yorkshire and Humber.

Nearly two-fifths claim to have taken a hit of up to £10,000, while 20% estimate the cost to have been somewhere between £10,000 and £30,000. Two per cent believe the cost could be more than £30,000.

The additional cost of the freezing winter comes at a time when 35% of SMEs reported negative growth in the last financial year.

John Robson, regional director for Lloyds TSB Commercial in the North, said: “Businesses in Yorkshire and Humber have faced a double blow over the past few months. They have had to grapple with the downturn in trade as a result of the recession, as well as the impact of the severe weather conditions. The combined impact of both the recession and winter will inevitably have caused cash flow problems for many businesses.

“Whilst it is almost impossible to prevent the impact of severe weather on the day-to-day running of a business, there are steps firms can take to get back on their feet quickly and ensure that their business does not suffer long-term damage from any short-term financial loss. Most importantly, businesses need to let their customers know that they are open.”

He added: “If travel is impossible due to the adverse weather, online banking can help businesses keep on top of their finances. Investing in the appropriate technology can also help businesses enable their staff to work remotely when required.”


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