News in brief: retail; finance, branding; global;

News in brief
News in brief


Businesses are unprepared for Black Friday

Research announced from Tableau shows that nearly one in four (24%) UK retailers are not using data effectively enough to optimise sales for Black Friday. Last year, shoppers spent £810m during Black Friday and this year is set to be even bigger, with spending in the UK forecast to top £1bn in one day for the first time ever.

The survey conducted by Tableau, a global leader in business analytics software, polled 200 senior retail decision makers about the role of data analytics in the retail industry ahead of Black Friday. The findings show that retailers using data analytics to drive business decisions were in fact three times more optimistic about a successful Black Friday in 2015 than those with little to no use of data analytics.


Nearly a third of SMEs have had overdrafts removed or reduced in the last two years

According to research by the online business finance supermarket Funding Options, 30% of SMEs had their overdraft removed or reduced by their bank in the last two years, with 17% of all SMEs having had their overdraft removed entirely.

Funding Options explains that the results of its survey of SME owners support its recent analysis of Bank of England figures, which show that the total stock of SME overdrafts has tumbled by £5 million per day since 2011 and is still falling.

Funding Options says that this decline in business overdrafts is likely to be permanent. Tighter rules on banks’ capital controls since the credit crunch mean that small business overdrafts are unlikely to ever rebound to pre-crisis levels. The effect of this change has been to erode the working capital of SMEs, and restrict their ability to invest for growth.

CEO of Funding Options Conrad Ford said: “We are witnessing the end of the business overdraft as a reliable source of funding for small businesses and for SMEs this is a painful process.”

Lloyds Bank launches new current account for SMEs

Lloyds Bank is launching a new current account designed to provide small business customers with a simpler, more transparent solution to their banking needs. Key product features include a single Business Current Account with simple and transparent pricing, meaning business customers do not need to choose and switch tariffs as their account usage changes; free electronic transactions; access to your account 24/7, enabling customers to manage their finances wherever and whenever it suits.

The managing director of Retail Business Banking at Lloyds Banking Group, Jen Tippin said: “The new Business Current Account is a major step forward in our drive to help small businesses in the UK to start up, grow and prosper. We know that small businesses want their banking to be straightforward and hassle-free so that they can spend more time on managing and growing their businesses and less time on their day-to-day banking. Our simple and transparent new proposition will help them do exactly that.”


Consumers prefer businesses with a good grasp on grammar

New research from Barclays Business asked UK consumers whether the name of a business can help or hinder trade and found that SMEs with good spelling are top of the class, with 89% of shoppers saying they are more encouraged to shop there. After grammar gripes, a memorable business name is the second most compelling factor when attracting custom (87%), followed by a link to UK heritage (72%).

Head of Business Banking at Barclays Adam Rowse said: “When starting a business, the naming and branding process can be very influential for future business success – it tells consumers everything they should know about the business and first impressions count.”

The research also revealed that reputation, convenience and the history of a business are key factors in determining where consumers choose to shop. Nearly half of consumers (46%) choose a business recommended by friends or family. When shopping online, 42% agree that a poorly designed website is a turn-off, while over a third (37%) will pay more for products or services from a business that they trust over one they do not. Meanwhile, more than a quarter (28%) would travel further to use a business they know and trust.


UK ranked among top countries worldwide to do business

The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report has placed the UK as the 6th out of 189 countries as one of the top places to do business, ahead of the US, Germany and Japan. The UK Government’s continued commitment to de-regulate, make it easier to start and grow a business and establish a competitive tax environment has pushed the UK up two places, from 8th last year.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said: "The UK has once again climbed up the rankings and is one of the top places in the world to do business, getting closer to the Government’s target of reaching the top five. This is international recognition of the UK’s strong and stable business environment, competitiveness and entrepreneurial spirit. Our economy is now growing faster than any other G7 nation.

“The Government is taking steps to ensure that every part of Britain benefits from the growing economy and that everyone who works hard gets the opportunities they need to succeed.”