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How do I know if a supplier is insolvent or in liquidation?

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How do I know if a supplier is insolvent or in liquidation?

Reviewed: 14th May 2018

Whether they supply you with your raw materials, finished products, or provide transport or delivery services, having a supplier go bust isn’t something any business owner would wish to happen. The knock-on effects of this on your own business can be potentially disastrous. Your production or distribution channels could be severely disrupted or even grind to a halt if these issues are not addressed and a plan swiftly put into place. The problem, however, is that it can be difficult to know that a supplier is in trouble before it is too late.

Here are a few things that can help you be on the lookout for a supplier in trouble:

1. Look for the warning signs – There are often warning signs that a company is experiencing financial issues, and the earlier these are spotted the better. Is the service they are providing you as good as it used to be? Are they taking longer to deliver goods to you, or have you noticed a dip in the quality of what they are supplying? Perhaps they are pushing you to make payment well before the invoice date. These could be signs that they are experiencing a certain level of financial discomfort or issues with their cash flow. If you suspect this is the case you should look to mitigate your exposure and reliance on this company to provide you with services or goods vital to the operations of your own business.

2. Check their status with Companies House – The Companies House website allows you to search for any registered limited company in the UK. Among a raft of other information, this will tell you the current status of the company. If the company is trading and has not entered a liquidation procedure or requested that the company be struck off, then the status will show as ‘active’. Alternatives which you should take note of are ‘dissolved’ which means the company has already been closed, or ‘liquidation’ which signifies that the company is currently undergoing some form of insolvency procedure. Although this is a good guide, this method is not without fault. A company’s status will only change to ‘liquidation’ once a liquidator has been appointed and the process officially started. Just because a company is ‘active’ does not mean it is without issues or in the early stages of commencing insolvency proceedings.

3. Monitor your suppliers – It is likely that you would do your research before signing up with a new supplier, checking their credit history and asking for references. However, doing your due diligence is just as important when it comes to your current suppliers. Software programmes such as Red Flag Alert give you the capability to monitor your suppliers and customers, both existing and potential, and be notified of any changes to their structure or financial position. This information can be extremely useful in helping you mitigate the risks caused by suppliers going bust or falling into insolvency.Once you know a supplier is in difficulty you can take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your business by limiting your financial exposure to this company and sourcing an alternative supplier for the future.

If you fear your supplier is experiencing financial difficulties, you need to take action as a matter of priority. If you have already paid for goods and your supplier subsequently goes into liquidation, you should be prepared for the possibility that you may never receive these goods or services you have paid for. If this happens, you need to take stock of what that means for the viability of your own company. Ideally you will be in a position where you can move on from any money lost to a defunct supplier, however, depending on the level of financial exposure you had to this company, their liquidation may put your own company at risk.

If your company, and its ability to continue trading, is threatened by a supplier becoming insolvent, you need to take swift action to remedy the situation. There are a range of business rescue, recovery, and restructuring options out there and the sooner you seek expert advice, the more of these will be open to you. Real Business Rescue will talk you through these options and suggest the most appropriate one for you and your business. Call us today to arrange a free no-obligation consultation with one of our insolvency experts. 

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