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Research Reveals the Businesses that Pay their Bills Late

May 22 2015

New research recently published by Experian sheds light on the speed with which UK businesses are paying their suppliers. While the authors find hopeful signs in the fact that the average number of days late most commercial invoices are settled has reduced since 2014, it remains that the average invoice is settled more than three weeks late(24.3 days beyond terms).

In addition, it can be seen from the data that some sectors are far worse than others at paying suppliers quickly. Businesses in the 'postal and telecommunications' sector claim the title for the worst payers, taking on average 44.4 days beyond the agreed terms to pay their bills. By contrast businesses in 'agriculture, forestry and fishing' are much better at paying their suppliers, paying an average of 'only' 10 days late.

The data also shows quite clearly that the larger the company, the worse it treats its suppliers in terms of stretching credit beyond the agreed length of time.

Sam White, CEO of My Credit Controllers, commented:

"While a small improvement in the average time taken pay an invoice is welcome news, this research clearly shows the difficulties SMEs face in collecting their debts on time, and highlights the way large companies are the worst at paying to the terms they agreed. Let's remember also that the average conceals companies that take much longer to pay up."

The Worst Sectors for Paying Invoices on Time

  Sector Average Days Beyond Terms
1 Postal and Telecommunications 44.4
2 Leisure and Hotels 28.9
3 Property 27.7
4 Food Retailing 27.4
5 Utilities 27.4
6 Extractive Industries 27.1
7 Banking and Financial Services 26.2
8 IT 25.3
9 Non-Food Retailing 24.5
10 Textiles and Clothing 24.2
11 Media 24.0
12 Hiring and Leasing 23.9
13 Transport 23.6
14 Health and Household 23.6
15 Business Services 22.7
16 Plastics & Rubber 22.5
17 Diversified Industrials 22.1

The Best Sectors for Paying Invoices on Time

  Sector Average Days Beyond Terms
1 Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing 10.0
2 Spirits, Wine and Tobacco 10.2
3 Printing, Paper and Packaging 17.7
4 Oil 17.9
5 Servicing/Repair 18.1
6 Building Materials 19.1
7 Motor Traders 19.7
8 Chemicals Industry 19.9
9 Breweries 19.9
10 Other Services 20.0
11 Pharmaceuticals 20.1
12 Engineering 20.2
13 Wholesaling 20.2
14 Food Manufacturing 20.9
15 Insurance 20.9
16 Electricals 21.0
17 Building and Construction 21.2

Are Large Companies Worse at Paying Their Bills?

Company Size (Employees) Average Days Beyond Terms
1-2 20.6
3-5 21.3
6-10 21.2
11-25 21.6
26-50 22.9
51-100 23.8
101-500 24.1
501+ 34.2

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