Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP
  June 2, 2022 - England

Challenging times ahead for UK businesses and their directors
  by Suzanne Knowles

Running a business can be an extremely rewarding experience, but it is not without its challenges. While pandemic-related restrictions have eased, rising energy costs and inflationary pressures continue to cause concern for UK businesses. Further, the personal impact that dealing with periods of distress can have on directors should not be overlooked.

The current outlook

Data from the Office of National Statistics, published on 5 May 2022, highlighted the scale of some of the challenges UK businesses are facing.

Unsurprisingly, rising energy prices and the increasing cost of other goods and services remain a key concern across a range of sectors. In particular, the data shows:

Faced with such challenges, there can be pressure on directors to adapt their operations and implement new strategies to weather an uncertain outlook. As prices rise, many businesses are having to give careful consideration to their financial position and explore different options for protecting cash flow – whether that includes refinancing funding arrangements, negotiating with creditors, making redundancies or other operational restructuring.

As a result, directors may find themselves having to make difficult decisions which can often have a significant impact on their employees, creditors and other stakeholders. At the same time, directors must be mindful of their duties. Where a company is experiencing financial difficulty, directors should be alive to the risk of personal liability and/or disqualification from acting as a director in the event of any breach of duty, such as for wrongful trading. The personal impact of these concerns should not be underestimated.

Finding the right solution

While the proportion of businesses absorbing price increases suggests a level of resilience across different sectors, there are undoubtedly challenges ahead. In these circumstances, early engagement with specialist advisers can be beneficial in helping directors understand their responsibilities and assess restructuring options.

What's more, at Shepherd and Wedderburn, we recognise periods of distress can be difficult for directors to navigate and understand the need for them to look after their own mental health and wellbeing. This is why we have collaborated with Care first, a leading wellbeing services provider, to give the company directors we work with free access to a wellbeing assistance programme. 

Care first offers 24-hour confidential counselling, information and support, with all calls answered by counsellors accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. By facilitating access to Care first’s services, we aim to give directors access to the dedicated, expert support they may need to care for themselves so they are fully equipped, in turn, to make the best business decisions.

You can find out more about our collaboration with Care first and the services offered by our business restructuring and advisory team here.

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