Reader Reaction: Are SMEs in the UK print sector currently looking to invest?

Friday, February 4, 2011

UK banks recently claimed small businesses aren't currently looking for finance. But is this the case?

COMMERCIAL PRINTER
Michael Moradian, owner, Print Express London
"Companies want to invest, but not at any price. When base rate is half a per cent, the expectation is that a loan should be based on a historical 2.5-5% above dependent on credit rating. Most companies, even those with a good credit rating, are being quoted interest rates well above that, together with inflated "agreement" fees, making finance expensive at a time when their customers expect discounts. The cost of borrowing is too high for the risk being undertaken or the reward received. If the banks quoted finance 2.5-5% above base, I am sure there would be a significant uptake and the economy would benefit."

TRADE UNION
Tony Burke, assistant general secretary, Unite
"We talk to employers and we are finding that the banks are not making it easy for them. It isn’t just in print; SMEs as a whole are not getting the sympathetic ear from the banks that Vince Cable promised, they are making it very difficult for small businesses. Finance is being sought all over the place, but SMEs are constantly being turned down; it certainly isn’t a case of companies not wanting finance. Banks need to help SMEs. If they are going to invest in skills and training, let alone machinery, they are going to need some form of financing."

DISPLAY GRAPHICS PRINTER
Tim Hill, managing director, Speedscreen
"In my view, banks are open for business if you have a good case to offer. If you bring them a solid business plan and a good track record delivering on past promises then you are more likely to secure finance. I think that banks are tightening things down and companies with flaky proposals will find it difficult to borrow. A while ago, this was not the case. I do, however, think that underwriters are still difficult to convince as they often group the entire print industry under one umbrella, which makes getting finance more problematic than it should be."

DIGITAL PRINTER
Tim Lance, sales and finance director, X1
"That is absolute rubbish. We are looking to get finance for a project at the moment and to be honest, we are finding it very, very difficult. We’ve been with the same bank for 25 years and I don’t know what more we can do. It seems that when it is sunny they want to give us an umbrella and when it rains, they take it away. The problem is local bank managers no longer have the ability to make decisions at a base level. They have to refer everything up the line and therefore, it is more difficult to get finance approved."

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