Supply chain · 6 November 2017

European business owners pay invoices two days quicker than British counterparts

Talking to a client.
European business owners based in the UK pay suppliers within 18 days on average

Smaller European-owned businesses based in the UK pay their invoices two days faster than small British-owned businesses, new research has revealed.

European business owners pay within 18 days of receiving an invoice on average, whereas British firms take 20 days to pay.

A survey, carried out by London-based fintech firm Opal Transfer amongst more than 1,300 UK-based companies, revealed European business owners were better corporate citizens than their British counterparts.

In the report “The economic contribution made by EU nationals and what Britain stands to lose post-Brexit”, Opal Transfer found that European businesses paid invoices nine per cent faster than small companies owned by Brits.

Larger UK companies were even less likely to pay invoices on time than their smaller counterparts, the survey data showed.

Commenting on the statistics, Opal Transfer managing director, Gita Petkevica, said: “EU nationals come to the UK because they want to work hard and to do well. It’s great that these figures show that Europeans are good corporate citizens too.”

European business owners in the UK pay their invoices far quicker than Brits

Amount of time taken to pay invoices

late payments

The report also pointed to the types of industry in which late payments tended to cause the most problems.

For businesses in sectors with typically high overhead costs in terms of materials or labour, just one invoice paid late can, in some cases, result in a “ripple” effect through supply chains, causing cash flow issues for a wider network of small businesses.

For small companies in the construction, infrastructure or manufacturing sectors, for example, late payments can quickly become crippling.

“Delayed payments put a lot of small businesses into insolvency,” added Petkevica. “It’s very common for businesses of all types and sizes to grumble about how long it takes to get an invoice paid. But the consequences of payment delays are very serious.

“It is so good to see that in this area – prompt payment to suppliers – European businesses score very well. The UK government should do more to broadcast how important European businesses and European entrepreneurs are to the UK economy.”

Despite Brexit negotiations having reached stalemate, it is hoped the UK government will reach an agreement with the EU, securing the rights of all UK-based European business owners, before Britain officially splits from the union.

Majority of small firms will prefer trading with Europe even after Brexit

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Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.


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