Small firms hurt by tardy customers


IRISH small and medium firms are still suffering because customers are slow to pay for goods and services.

On average, payments are made 59 days after invoices are received, according to a survey by accountants Grant Thornton. But the Irish position compares favourably with the European average of 61 days.

Just 4 per cent (1994: 3 per cent) of the customers of Irish firms pay within two weeks of receiving invoices, according to the European Business Survey. A further 5 per cent (1994: 4 per cent) pay within a month and another 39 per cent, (1994: 44 per cent) have paid within two months.

But 36 per cent of customers (1994: 34 per cent) take up to 90 days to pay for goods and services while 11 per cent wait for more than three months before paying their bills.

While the Irish average payment period of 59 days is better than the European average of 61 days, it is worse than the 50 day average delay before payment in Britain and 38 days in Germany.

Carried out in October and November 1995, the survey was based on 5,200 detailed responses by small and medium sized businesses in 17 European countries.

Some 119 Irish companies out of 1,000 approached replied, giving a response rate of 20 per cent, compared with a European average response rate of 12 per cent.