Half of NI businesses suffer from late payments

Over a half of businesses in Northern Ireland that responded to a survey say that late customer payments could drive them out of business.

Nearly 500 local businesses were polled to compile the latest Quarterly Economic Survey from Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and accountancy firm BDO, and 55% said that their ability to grow, and perhaps even survive, was in jeopardy as a result of their customers not paying their invoices on time.

Just under a third of the companies polled (30%) said they had seen an increase in instances of customer debt over the last year, and 40% of businesses said they did not have a procedure in place to protect themselves from bad debt.

The results of the poll reflect similar surveys on customer debt, with new figures showing that there was an increase in debt owed to businesses in the UK last year, with an increasing number of businesses turning to external debt recovery services to get a handle on their bad debts.

Gillian Crotty, a partner specialising in debt recovery at Wilson Nesbitt solicitors in Belfast, commented:

"Many businesses in Northern Ireland are operating at break-even work levels, with others enjoying a modest profit - but those positions can only be sustained if companies are more proactive in recovering customer debts.

"New business is costing more to acquire, and there is more competition than ever to obtain new customers. Businesses are often putting all their energy into getting new business on board, but then faltering at the last hurdle when it comes to ensuring that they actually get paid for the good or services provided. 

"Our solicitor debt recovery service collects customer debts for Northern Ireland companies on a daily basis, allowing managers to get on with the day-to-day business of getting new orders and fulfilling them, without then having to spend hours on the phone chasing up customers for invoice payments."

Call 0800 840 9291 to speak to a solicitor specialising in debt recovery at Wilson Nesbitt, or click here to visit the debt recovery section of our website.