News in brief: unsold inventory; presenteeism; Black Friday

News in brief
News in brief

SMEs unsold inventory reaches £50bn mark

The value of small businesses’ unsold inventory has reached the £50.9 billion mark, up 4% in a year from £48.8 billion in 2014, according to research conducted by the Asset Based Finance Association (ABFA).

Commenting on the report, tax partner at Whittingham Riddell Duncan Montgomery, said: “Rising inventory levels can be a sign of overstock for demand, but also innovation. When new products are coming into the market place, many businesses are seeing older stock move in to obsolescence, realistic write downs and selling in to the right market at the right price are key.

“Stock costs money to store and proper data analysis can tell businesses what is really going on in the warehouse. It takes only a few minutes to identify all non-current stock and make decisions, if you have the right tools. The barrier for many is access to easy information; management needs to be making decisions, not spending time trying to harvest what should be available.”

European SMEs’ confidence in exporting is growing

Europe’s smaller companies are bullish about growing their exports in the coming year, according to a survey commissioned by UPS. The UK’s SME exporters are more optimistic than the average, with 42% of companies expecting export volumes to grow and 45% expecting them to hold stable. The report also shows that exporting is strongly associated with higher overall revenue growth for SMEs and that Europe is seeing very rapid adoption of online commerce among SME exporters.

The UK has the highest proportion (61%) of SME exporters reporting higher revenues over the last three years, and almost the lowest proportion (11%) reporting lower revenues. The UK’s SMEs are also the second-most likely to use online channels for exporting (70% of companies) – only the Netherlands has a higher proportion of SMEs exporting online (74%).

Presenteeism may stem from raised motivation

High job demands, stress and job insecurity are among the main reasons why people go to work when they are ill, according to new research by an academic at the University of East Anglia (UEA).

A key finding of the study, published today in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, is that presenteeism not only stems from ill health and stress, but from raised motivation, for example high job satisfaction and a strong sense of commitment to the organisation. This may motivate people to ‘go the extra-mile’, causing them to work more intensively, even when sick.

One of the significant links to presenteeism is the severity of organisational policies used to monitor or reduce staff absence, such as strict trigger points for disciplinary action, job insecurity, limited paid sick leave, or few absence days allowed without a medical certificate.

SMEs must prepare for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday fast approaching, experts have urged retailers to make sure they’re sufficiently prepared for two of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Leading parcel delivery comparison website,, has advised businesses and online retailers to ensure they have everything in place ahead of these designated sales days on 27 and 30 November respectively. According to commerce consultancy Salmon, Black Friday 2015 will be the first year that sees the British public spend a total of £1 billion in a single day, with Cyber Monday expected to bring in even more in online sales.

Marketing manager at Robert Mead, believes that retailers should plan ahead to ensure they are not missing out: “Research has shown that Black Friday and Cyber Monday generated £180m and £720m last year, which means that those not taking part in these massive online sales could be missing out on opportunities to further their business.”

Labour’s London Mayoral candidate calls for boost to Living Wage

Sadiq Khan, Labour’s London Mayoral candidate, has called on George Osborne to hand powers to apply business rate discounts and reliefs in London to City Hall, and said that he would use them to offer small companies additional incentives to pay their staff the London Living Wage.

Such a move would allow the Mayor, working in tandem with local authorities, to offer reduced rates to small businesses who become accredited Living Wage employers – a model that is already being tried at a Borough level by Labour Councils including Brent and Lewisham.

Sadiq Khan said: “I will make London a Living Wage city – one in which everyone is paid a real Living Wage. I’ll work with employers to make it happen – and I’ll use the financial devolution powers the Chancellor announced in the budget to make paying the London Living Wage an easier decision to make, especially for small businesses – for example with reduced business rates.

“I know that for small business committing to pay the London Living Wage and increasing wage costs can be a tougher decision than it is for big businesses. That’s why I want to ensure that they are rewarded for doing the right thing.”