MANY Yorkshire firms are ill-prepared for another big freeze this winter, it is claimed.
A survey commissioned by Close Invoice Finance showed that 56% of small and medium-sized enterprises in the region were worried about the impact of arctic weather this winter.
But more than a quarter don’t have a business continuity plan in place to deal with issues such as staff absenteeism and power failures.
The British Chambers of Commerce estimated that last year the economy lost £1.2bn a day due to the cold snap.
Ian Steward, of Close Invoice Finance, said SMEs were the most vulnerable – and those that are already struggling because of the economic conditions may find that several days out of business due to extreme weather is the final straw.
Said Mr Steward: “All too often, people think about massive disasters when they talk about business continuity, but in reality it’s the more mundane factors – like bad weather – that can impact us most of all.
“If businesses aren’t prepared for the worst, it can have a serious effect on cash flow – which everyone knows is the lifeblood of all business.
“Prevention really is better than cure and I would urge SME owners who aren’t already prepared to act now – checking that premises are winter-proof, insurance is up to date and flexible working plans are in place in case staff can’t make it to work.”
Mr Steward said: “For certain sectors of the economy, such as transport and logistics, there is of course no escaping the financial impact of the harsh weather, but with careful planning any disruption can be kept to a minimum.
“Our study revealed that eight in 10 businesses operating in the transport and logistics industry are worried about the effects of another big freeze, substantially higher than the 58% average across all business sectors.
“Transport grinding to a halt is probably the single biggest economic blow when heavy snow hits the UK. For owners of logistics and haulage companies the cost of late deliveries, extra fuel charges, and honouring strict contracts with clients can put a devastating strain on financial resources.”
Said Mr Steward: “The key for getting through one of the worst winters we’ve seen for years is preparation. Failing to plan could have a serious impact on your business and result in it being unable to trade.”