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Second survey of SMEs reveals continuing business challenges of Covid-19 pandemic

In April, we published our first Covid-19 impact study to show the impact on UK SMEs in the early stages of the pandemic. Since then, the challenges facing the country's 5.9 million businesses have continued to mount. Whether adapting to home working, furloughing staff, or closing premises - the world looks a very different place today.

Our latest study is based on a poll of 500 UK SME owners and decision makers across the manufacturing, construction, wholesale, transport, retail and services sectors. Research was conducted by independent specialists, Critical Research and fieldwork took place between 9 July and 18 July 2020. Respondent businesses had an average annual turnover of £1.3m.

This page summarises some of the key findings of the report. Download a free copy of the report to gain a clear understanding of the challenges which businesses continue to face.

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Key findings

    • Two-fifths of SMEs have leveraged the furlough scheme to safeguard their businesses
    • One in ten SMEs have been forced to make redundancies
    • A third of businesses have seen customer orders increase since the easing of lockdown
    • 22 per cent of SMEs are experiencing supply chain issues due to temporary or permanent closure of suppliers
    • One in five businesses are using debt to maintain cash flow levels
    • Half are being paid later by customers while 28 per cent have suffered from bad debt
    Read our press release

    Our latest findings show that SMEs are trying to get back to business. Edward Winterton, UK CEO at Bibby Financial Services

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    Getting back to business

    Since the easing of lockdown at the end of June, many SMEs have been getting back to business.

    More than a quarter say they have brought back employees from furlough, however, more than one in 10 say they have not yet reopened.

    A third of businesses have seen customer orders increase since the easing of lockdown.

    But social distancing guidelines and making workplaces and premises safe, are reducing the ability to take on new business. And more than one in five are experiencing supply chain issues due to temporary or permanent closure of suppliers.


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    Economic impact on SMEs

    Significant financial pressures are being felt by business owners. One in five say they are using debt to maintain cash flow levels, and more than half say they will be unable to meet costs beyond 12 months if consumer confidence remains the same.

    Half say they are being paid later by customers while 28% have suffered from bad debt, where a customer has failed to pay all or some of the amount owed.


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    Support from Bibby Financial Services

    We are a leading independent financial services partner to over 10,000 businesses worldwide. We provide specialist and adaptable trade, asset and working capital finance, and FX services helping businesses to grow in domestic and international markets.

    Formed in 1982, BFS is part of the Bibby Line Group (BLG), a diverse and forward-looking family business delivering personal, responsive and flexible customer solutions for over 200 years.

    • Contact us to discover how we can help your business.
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