Latest insolvency stats suggest Zombie companies are still hanging on

The latest Insolvency stats suggest that Zombie Businesses are holding back the UK Economy.

A summary of the Q2 2011 UK insolvency statistics shows: Compulsory Liquidations up; Voluntary Liquidations down; Administrations down and CVAs static.

Against a background of slowing growth over the last three quarters of the UK economy, perhaps the picture of what has been going on is becoming clearer.

Unlike most insolvency and turnaround practitioners, I do not believe that we will soon be busy restructuring the large number of over-leveraged businesses.

I believe businesses are putting off restructuring and will do so for as long as possible, at least while the economy is uncertain. Historically insolvencies have increased during the upturn after the bottom of a recession, when business prospects can be predicted. Right now it is not clear if we have reached the bottom and if there will be any growth, let alone how much, or if the market will flatline for some time.

One set of figures, the increase in compulsory liquidations, does indicate a level of frustration over companies not taking action to deal with their debts. Creditors are becoming impatient with directors who are putting off restructuring and starting to force their hand by issuing a winding up petition. But even these figures are very low.

The tragedy is that without restructuring, a great many so called ‘Zombie businesses’, lack optimism to plan for the future. They have run down their stock levels, cut staff to the bone, do limited marketing, are not investing nor looking for growth opportunities let alone looking abroad and are not laying foundations for their future.

The lack of optimism is resulting in quality and service levels being in decline and as a result they are holding back economic recovery because they are not investing in it.

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