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The peril of working with a big company

How many times have you heard the story of a SME securing that “Life changing” contract with a big company?

While many can look back and say that really was a life changer, too many fall into an ever-decreasing financial circle. All is going well until the SME gets told the previously agreed unit price is being revised (usually down) while the double-whammy is the large company also dictates when and how much the SME will be paid. Others, such as those working for Carillion Plc, find they are increasing their exposure while the contractual terms oblige them to continue working (with no guarantee of payment) or face potential claims for (say) unilateral breach of contract.

The Government highlight the late payment interest legislation but their stance is based upon vote winning and not the hard reality of business where the larger corporations will simply ignore such demands with the threat you continue working under their preferred conditions or lose the contract entirely.

I mention Carillion but lest we forget others like British Home Stores, Habitat, Mark One, Toys “R” Us and 56 football clubs that have been subject to insolvency; some multiple times.

It is so easy to sit and write this but when an SME has that large corporation opportunity it can be like offering a starving person food. It takes a brave person indeed to turn down such a business opportunity.

The Achilles heel always seems to centre around the terms of contract. Large corporations will generally lay down their terms.  Our advice would be to consult your solicitor and ensure there are safeguards for the SME in that contract.  Okay, that may be a deal breaker but what do you prefer, a contract that benefits both parties and encourages success or to sit in front of an insolvency practitioner telling a tale of woe as your business ceases to trade because it could not trade under the conditions imposed?  Is that really a tough choice?

Should you need further convincing just think of the 30,000 businesses and the £1.5 billion of unpaid debt Carillion has left in its wake. One of those has already spoken to PBC and is wondering how his business will survive losing the £800,000 Carillion owe.  At PBC we are certain this business is not the first victim of Carillion where the owners now see the life changing experience being one of detriment and loss.

If you require any advice or assistance on mediation or probate matters, or any other insolvency-related issue, then please contact PBC Business Recovery & Insolvency to discuss and advise on your situation. Call Gary Pettit or Gavin Bates on 01604 212150 completely confidentially.

Blog written by Gary Pettit