Henry Howard Finance has welcomed news that business rates are to better reflect property prices in future – but says the move is only part of the solution for British retailers now dealing with a multitude of challenges in the current climate.
Ministers recently introduced new legislation which means bills for UK business rate payers should more accurately reflect current property values in future, maintaining fairness by redistributing the total amount payable across the country in the process.
This will particularly support the retail sector, where retail jobs have experienced their fourth consecutive quarter of decline, according to the Office for National Statistics, while the number of UK business ‘births’ generally has decreased for the first time since 2010* and the number of business ‘deaths’ increased at a rate of 2.2%.
Sarah Freeman, Head of Retail Finance at Henry Howard Finance, says business rates are only part of the issue, however: “If we look at the past 20 years alone, and the extent to which the business landscape within that time has changed, it’s not surprising to think that small to medium sized companies are most probably feeling those changes the most.
“We have helped over 30,000 UK SMEs to achieve their goals and during that time seen many of these not just weather a variety of economic storms but literally turn their businesses around by thinking laterally when it comes to all kinds of business decisions, not least their refinancing options.”
“With this in mind it seems a pertinent time to reinforce the message that smaller companies that are willing to work at adapting and evolving, and that are prepared to continue doing so year in year out, are surviving and in many cases thriving too,” Sarah added.
UK SMEs name ‘economic uncertainty’, ‘ongoing digitalisation efforts’ and ‘increased competition’ as the three biggest challenges facing their organisation over the next two years, new research shows**.
Access to talent and ‘regulatory changes’ were also in the top five issues SMEs in Britain foresee tackling within the same period.
Sarah continues: “Despite the challenging environment, small to medium sized businesses UK-wide all have the power to overcome issues arising from advances in technology, growing overheads, decreasing footfall and a host of other modern-day factors.”
“Where many larger corporates have enlisted the help of dedicated strategists to deal with the rise in digital commerce practices, changing employment trends and the balance of online and offline service provision, among other things, smaller companies have to a large extent been left to feel their way.”
“We’ve seen first-hand time and again that staying flexible when it comes to the introduction of technology, investing in staff and changing location can work wonders for businesses across a wide range of industries, however, including those in the retail sector,” Sarah added.
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