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Turnover target increase of Preston firm after funding boost

August 16th, 2011 in Business Chamber News, Liverpool by admin

Preston-based supplier of commercial catering and refrigeration equipment supplier Valera, has said it is aiming for sales of £10m over the next two years after securing a £2.5m funding package, including invoice finance.

The company, founded in the early 1990’s is a distributor for such corporate brands as Sanyo and Whirlpool and the products is supplies include items such as commercial microwave ovens, fat free fryers, and dishwashers.

The firms’ founder and managing director Pratap Gadhvi said the business was caught cold by currency fluctuations at the onset of the recession as stock that had been purchased in advance was left unsold.

However, he said that a finance package – which comprises a £1.6m cash flow facility and a £400,000 loan should provide it with the liquidity to take advantage of emerging opportunities.

“Our banking partner was largely unsupportive of our situation….” said Gadhvi as he explained that “More than 60 per cent of our business is done between April and September, so it was also important to ensure cash flow was boosted all year round.”

Gadhvi said Valera is on target up hit a turnover of £10m in 2013, which is up from the £8m it posted in its last full financial year to 30 September 2010. Pre-tax profit in that financial year was £83,000.

The Growing Business of Online Reputation Management

April 14th, 2011 in Business Chamber News, From Admin by admin

By Nick Bilton of The NewYork Times

Over the weekend I wrote an article for Sunday Styles about new Web services that deal with a new problem — online reputation management. These businesses have cropped up over the past few years to address one major negative aspect of our online world: As quickly as images, blog posts, commentary, status updates and photos are posted on the Web, they are replicated by algorithms and search engines, and dissipate like an airborne virus. The Internet is a permanent record of our past, and it never forgets anything posted online.

The new crop of services help people erase negative or unflattering content from the Web — sometimes put there by themselves, and in other instances, put there by someone else. They work with any number of clients, large and small. In the article, for example, I wrote about some of them: a physiologist whose name had been smeared online, celebrities, banker, lawyers, and college students who are trying to remove unwanted drunken party photos posted in their youth.

As I interviewed executives at a number of companies that offer these services, including Reputation.com and Metal Rabbit Media, I consistently heard warnings that this is only the beginning of a time where everyone will be forced to manage their image online.

“I believe that we are heading into an era where there will be the equivalent of a WikiLeaks moment for everyone,” said Michael Fertik, the chief executive of Reputation.com, which is based in Redwood City, Calif. “Every two weeks we find new and novel ways that people can be harmed on the Web.”

Mr. Fertik warned that the Web is changing so quickly, with new social services popping up almost daily, that it has become impossible for people to understand what they have shared online in the past, and if it can affect them negatively later. In most instances, he said, it will.

Mr. Fertik also warned that for many, even trying to stay off the Web and maintain a pristine persona online can be impossible. “Most of the harm doesn’t come from dumb stuff you’ve done yourself,” he said. “Someone could have taken a photograph of you, put it online, and tagged you in it and it’s there forever.”

Bryce Tom, founder of Metal Rabbit Media, equates online reputation to the modern day credit report, pointing out that Americans have had to learn to manage their credit cards and bills to maintain a good credit score. The Web, he said, contains the modern day version of inaccurate credit reports, and reputation managers will be the equivalent of companies that monitor or fix people’s credit.

This article was seen on the New York Times blogs at http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/

Toughening up credit rating agency rules

April 14th, 2011 in Business Chamber News, From Admin by admin

New rules for credit rating agencies should clarify their working methods, boost competition and reduce reliance on their ratings, said Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee MEPs on Wednesday, two months before the Commission is to table legislative proposals. MEPs also advocated creating a European credit rating foundation, and called for special attention to sovereign debt ratings.

The committee’s own-initiative resolution, drafted by Wolf Klinz (ALDE, DE), did not however find unanimous support. The Socialists chose to abstain, with a view to amending the resolution before Parliament as a whole votes on it. The key points of discord were to do with methods for rating sovereign debt and with the structure of the proposed European credit rating foundation (ECRaF).

The thorny issue of sovereign debt

The resolution refrains from significantly reducing the scope for private CRAs to rate sovereign debt, as had initially been advocated by the Socialists and the GUE/NGL group. It nonetheless calls for more light to be shed on how CRAs arrive at their sovereign ratings, and says they should explain their methodologies and why their ratings deviate from the forecasts of the main international financial institutions. The resolution also notes that ratings have tended to accentuate spreads and demands special consideration of this issue.

European Credit Rating Foundation

The other bone of contention was about what structure to propose to provide a European counterweight to the three largest CRAs, which are felt to be too dominant on the European scene. The resolution calls on the Commission to carry out a detailed impact and viability assessment for a fully-independent credit rating foundation, with funding from the financial services industry made available for the first five years at most. Left of centre groups would have preferred a public CRA with less detail about the agency’s sources of funding after the start-up period.

Reducing dependence

The resolution advocates a series of measures to reduce current dependence on a very few sources for credit ratings. These include increasing the use of internal credit ratings, particularly by large financial institutions with the capacity to carry out their own risk assessments, and boosting competition. Market participants who are unable to carry out risk analyses in house should not be able to invest in structured products, or else should be able to do so only at the highest risk weighting, the resolution proposes.

To boost competition, the resolution calls on the Commission to assess possibilities for establishing a European network of CRAs, which, it says, would allow smaller agencies to compete with the “big 3″. The resolution adds however that attention must be paid to ensuring that increased competition does not lead to reduced quality of ratings or “rating shopping”.


he resolution also looks at ways to hold CRAs to account for the advice that they give. Most importantly, the committee text calls on the Commission to identify ways in which CRAs can be held liable under Member States’ civil law.

The resolution also suggests that all registered CRAs should assess the accuracy of their past credit ratings and make these assessments available to supervisors, and that the European Markets and Securities Authority (ESMA) should be empowered to conduct unannounced checks on these assessments.

Enhancing transparency

The resolution suggests various ways shed light on how CRAs arrive at their opinions and suggests that further documentation should be provided to supervisors. It also asks the Commission to look further into the benefits of requiring the use of two obligatory ratings, the more conservative of which would serve for regulatory oversight. This would give investors a clearer idea of the real situation of the investment instrument, it says.

Source - EU News

The www.creditman.co.uk website contains the latest news from the credit industry and has news and features on: commercial debt recovery, invoice finance, business recovery, debt purchase, credit insurance, outsourced credit control and many other debt and credit related sectors.

Anniversary for Liverpool Debt Recovery firm CCDR

April 14th, 2011 in Business Chamber News, Help Centre, Liverpool, RBS Market Watch by admin

The start of March 2011 sees the first anniversary of the website launch for Liverpool based Commercial Debt Collection and Commercial Debt Recovery Specialist CCDR (Corporate Credit Debt Recovery) and also marks the recent move to Liverpool‘s marquee office building, Horton House which is part of the landmark Exchange Flags, in the heart of Liverpool’s business district.

Home to Brabners Chaffe Street solicitors, Regus, Deloitte, Knight Frank and The Ministry of Defence, the prestigious Exchange Flags is the perfect location for CCDR to see out its impressive first year in operation.

Managing Director Alan Thompson “CCDR has seen tremendous growth in 2010 and all signs are pointing towards a healthy and sustained level of high growth during the remainder of 2011 and beyond”

The firm, from its Liverpool head office, CCDR offers business ranging from SME’s to multinational banks a range of services including: Outsourced Credit Control, Debtor Tracing and Debt Mediation through to Commercial Debt Recovery and Debt Collection.

For more information on CCDR, Debt Recovery Liverpool or to enquire about any other services from this Liverpool Debt Recovery specialist, call 0151 244 5444.

Online reputation management sector on the rise

April 14th, 2011 in Business Chamber News, From Admin, Liverpool by admin

The launch of a new start-up called Applicatr highlights the rise in online reputation management as a business sector, according to tech industry figures.

Applicatr is a web application that provides an effective way to review resumes, applications and interviews, and collate the feedback for the benefit of the employer.

Applicatr co-founder Dominik Grabiec says he and his business partner drew inspiration from the hiring processes at their day jobs, developing ways in which to improve them.

Verifying potential staff via the internet is a growth industry in Australia, says Foad Fadaghi, managing director of market research and analyst firm Telsyte, who says that online reputation management is a relatively new concept but one that was “born out of necessity”.

Online reputation management services are typically for people who have held senior roles, such as managers or CEOs, who may have left [their previous position] under a cloud or surrounded by media hysteria,” Fadaghi says.

“Some of these services can be quite helpful when it comes to media allegations or speculation, particularly in the blogosphere where the content is often less ethical than journalists’ [content].”

Online reputation management means manipulating Google searches that could return damaging news stories, social media posts and forum reviews relating to an individual.

Techniques include using positive key words associated with the individual or generating positive media releases on their behalf.

Google search rankings are based on a combination of most visited sites and the most trusted or authentic sites, which means highly valued, authoritative websites – such as news or government sites – are harder to push down the ranks.

James Griffin, a partner at social media monitoring agency SR7, says the best way to combat negative content is to put up some positive content.

Dan Petrovic, director of SEO service provider Dejan SEO, says apart from bad reviews and forum complaints, Google news results and auto-suggestions represent two of the biggest online threats.

“Much worse than any mention on a website is when Google thinks you’re a dodgy operator. Someone starts typing ‘Bob Smith’ and Google’s auto-complete starts suggesting ‘Bob Smith scammer’,” he says.

Petrovic says online reputation management services can cost up to $50,000 depending on the extent of the negative information. According to Fadaghi, there is not a lot employers can do to separate “authentic” content from paid content when doing a search on a prospective employee.

He says businesses should conduct proper reference checks on prospective employees rather than rely on online content as a true indication of a person’s history.

Article sourced from www.startupsmart.com.au

TheBiggestClearance.com going global

April 14th, 2011 in Business Chamber News, From Admin by admin

TheBiggestClearance.com now finally announces going global. After the previous success of the European B2B marketplace and the online platform for trading wholesale clearance, overstock, surplus and liquidation, The Biggest Clearance started working on its worldwide version.

Based on customer demands, the Marketplace is now officially ready and features more wholesale suppliers, sellers and buyers from all over the world.

The service allows wholesalers, manufacturers, retailers and liquidators to easily trade and sell their excess stock, overstocks, clearance stock and liquidations worldwide and find wholesale buyers now on a much larger scale.

Overstock, excess stock, bankrupt stock, liquidated stock, surplus stock, customer returns, out of season stock, you name it, this might be a common issue but also a costly problem for several wholesale and retail businesses, suppliers or even manufacturers.

Most companies from time to time end up with overstocks, surplus goods, liquidated goods and excess stock lots. Stock Clearance is a process by which companies free up the valuable money and space. Reasons leading to stock clearance could be cancelled orders or late deliveries, closing down of the businesses, bankruptcy, over-production, customer returns, refurbished stock etc.

This stock literally means dead cash that is taking up much needed space in the warehouse and is mostly losing its market value, being literally a nightmare to many entrepreneurs. The stock needs to be cleared out and find its buyer.

“So how to turn the warehouse leftovers back to cash?” The answer to this question might be simpler then we’d actually think.

The Biggest Clearance - TheBiggestClearance.com, as its name already suggests, has a lot to offer.

The online B2B e-marketplace is really the biggest clearance as it features the latest liquidation sales, clearance stock offers, overstock, closeouts, excess stock and wholesale deals from many major sellers, wholesale suppliers, liquidators, retailers and manufacturers.

“We came up with a solution to this problem and give the entrepreneurs and businesses an online space and trading network to actively turn their surplus into cash, find buyers for their surplus stock and make new business contacts. For many business, this could completely open up bigger doors to many new business opportunities and relations,” explains Eric Randolf, Managing Director and CEO of the company.

“By spreading our service all over the world, sellers and suppliers can now easily market their overstocks globally and find a potential buyer much faster and sell their excess stock thanks to our constantly growing network and its buying power.”

The Biggest Clearance launched back in 2008, in the time of the biggest economic crisis, working closely with manufacturers, liquidators, bankrupted businesses, wholesalers, distributors and retailers to help them deal with and sell their bankrupt stock and merchandise of almost any kind and description that won’t or couldn’t be sold through the regular retail channels.

“We had as many daily enquiries as the sea has fish,” commented Randolf.

These included merchandise from inventory overruns, closeouts, clearances or packaging changes as well as goods from bankruptcies, stock liquidations, receiverships and insurance claims. However a great percentage of the goods sold still came from healthy manufacturers and retailers who occasionally need help clearing overstock and excess stock inventories.

After a massive demand from many frustrated suppliers trying to get rid of their overstock, the company came up with the idea of going online, accessing more wholesale sources and suppliers and obviously more buyers.

The company launched its first online Marketplace in 2009 - TheBiggestClearance.eu. The Marketplace was firstly dedicated only to European Union countries and EU markets for the free trade of goods and was soon adopted by many European businesses to help them clear out their warehouses. Due to the unexpected success, 2 years later in 2011, the e-marketplace expanded to the whole world.

Today The Biggest Clearance Markeplace offers a great source of daily wholesale deals worldwide. The number of suppliers selling their stock and the demand from the buyers is constantly growing.
“We managed to establish a rich network of buyers searching the website every day for the new wholesale deals and sellers keeping the website busy with new surplus stock offers that are up for the sale,” commented Eric Randolf.

The Biggest Clearance really is the biggest clearance and a powerful platform filled up with great daily wholesale deals and offers from a wide selection of categories that cannot be missed and are attracting thousands of potential buyers in a single day.

The above press release was first seen on the Business Credit News website. Please feel free to visit The Biggest Clearance at http://www.thebiggestclearance.com

One other option to get the value out of your unsold stock is to raise other small business finance against its value with inventory finance, which are usually provided through invoice finance brokers.

Axa Real Estate fund raises €350m to provide debt to commercial property

February 4th, 2011 in Business Chamber News by admin

As reported by David Doyle of Property Week

Axa Real Estate Investment Management has raised €350m for a fund that will provide commercial debt to property as it moves to take advantage of the banks’ “very limited capacity to act.”

In the first closing of the Commercial Real Estate Senior 1 fund, the fund manager said it had raised the money for the pan-European debt fund from a mixture of European insurance companies and Axa Group companies.

The move increases its capacity to underwrite debt to commercial property to €1.5bn.

Isabelle Scemama, Head of Debt at Axa REIM SGP, adviser to the fund, said: “We see a clear opportunity to grow this market and believe that it eventually will follow the US example where around 20% of real estate transactions are underwritten by long term investors such as insurance companies, leading to a far more liquid and transparent market in Europe.”

Axa said the fund will provide senior loans either directly or by acting as a syndicate with a bank.

It said it will focus on good quality, income producing properties, primarily in Euro-denominated countries. It will also seek exposure to sterling and Nordic currencies.

Axa also said that, while the new fund enlarged its capacity into senior loans, the wider property business would be considering investing in a range of debt structures “from senior loans to equity including mezzanine debt, preferred equity and distressed debt structures” on a case-by-case basis.

Irish couple owe €800m to banks after property spending spree

February 4th, 2011 in Business Chamber News, Uncategorized by admin

First seen in the Guardian

Brian and Mary Pat O’Donnell say Bank of Ireland is trying to make them sell a prime London asset without legal entitlement

A lawyer and his doctor wife who blazed a trail through Ireland’s property boom on the back of colossal credit – buying up several London trophy buildings on the way – now owe more than €800m (£670m) to banks around the world, it has emerged, and the Corporate Credit Debt Recovery departments of those respective banks are in a feeding frenzy

The eye-popping scale of Brian and Mary Pat O’Donnell’s debts has been laid bare in a court case brought by Bank of Ireland in relation to some €70m (£58m) in debts it is trying to recover.

The couple, from Killiney, county Dublin, are fighting the case and say the bank is trying to make them sell one of their prime London assets – Sanctuary Buildings, used by the Department for Education and Skills – without legal entitlement.

The office block is just metres from the Houses of Parliament and was the first of many audacious moves made by the solicitor and his wife into the property market at a time when Ireland’s banks were making huge loans that have since brought the country to its knees and forced Dublin to accept a bailout from the EU and IMF.

The Bank of Ireland loaned the O’Donnells €26.7m towards the £170m purchase price in 2006. The couple then went on to expand their empire to Stockholm, where they bought the city’s biggest office block, Fatburen for €285m.

In April 2008, when the worldwide credit crunch was beginning to bite and had already claimed the likes of Bear Stearns in New York, the couple were still able to access funds.

With the strength of the euro in their favour, the O’Donnells managed to outbid a group from Dubai to pay a record $172.5m (£87m) for an office building on Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC, just a few blocks from the White House.

This was what the O’Donnell’s Vico Capital described as “trophy class” with “sweeping views of the White House, the Monuments and the Potomac River”. Its tenants included a law firm and a merchant bank and it was described in the local property press as a smart buy.

Vico Capital set a record, paying $867 (£436) for every square foot of the their Washington investment. The previous record in the American capital was $827.

Arguably, even more audacious was the acquisition of two buildings in London’s Canary Wharf – the purchase of 17 Columbus Courtyard in 2005 for £125m and 15 Westferry Circus for £140m. The first building is home to Credit Suisse and the second to Morgan Stanley.

For years, it probably seemed nothing could go wrong. The O’Donnells live in a clifftop home in one of Ireland’s most salubrious suburban roads and count the U2 frontman Bono among their neighbours.

The O’Donnells’ rise in the property sector mirrors that of dozens of other investors who got sucked in during the Celtic Tiger years when credit was cheap and capital yields, or profit on buildings, meant millions could be made, often in just a number of weeks.

But unlike many other middle-class professionals of their ilk who dabbled in the property market with a few buy-to-lets, this couple became major players and amassed an international property portfolio of more than €1.1bn (£921m) with a rent roll of some €150m (£125m).

They are, however, a low profile couple, and are aghast that their private financial affairs are now being made public. It is understood that as recently as last weekend, they tried to get a court approved mediation process underway.

“Most people in Dublin wouldn’t know what they looked like. They are an extremely private family and would have hoped to have continued to conduct their business in private,” said a source close to the couple.

Their case is the latest in a series of court actions being instigated against property developers now bearing the brunt of Ireland’s financial collapse.

According to informed sources there are two other private investors in the O’Donnells’ Sanctuary Buildings in Westminster and there are concerns that the court case will lead to “value destruction”. However the O’Donnells are determined to tough it out and have been given three weeks to put together a case for a fuller court hearing.

O’Donnell, 58, is one of Dublin’s leading commercial lawyers and ironically is on a list of 64 potential legal advisers approved by Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency – the new state bank which has been charged with clearing the mountain of bad debt amassed by property developers during the good times. Nama said O’Donnell had not been used in any case.

His practice, Brian O’Donnell solicitors, has the usual run of commercial expertise including mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructuring, insolvency and tax structuring. His practice, however, is not high profile in the media.

He first diversified into a serious property business back in 1999 and, with access to funds from a string of banks including Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank and Anglo-Irish, made his audacious moves in London, Scandinavia and the US.

Ten years later he and his wife, now 56, who are relatively low-key on the Dublin social circuit, were listed on the Sunday Times Rich List – 178th richest in Ireland, alongside another, more high profile property investor Derek Quinlan.

Quinlan, a former tax inspector who also caught the property bug, ended up with the crown jewels of London’s hotel and retail trade including the Savoy Hotel, Claridges and a retail block between Harvey Nichols and Knightsbridge in London.

For this and other news items, visit the Guardian web site here

More business in insolvencies in 2011?

February 3rd, 2011 in Business Chamber News, From Admin by admin

According to the Finance News web site, research suggests, that UK firms are to see serious financial difficulties more than any time in the last two years.

In the last three months of 2010 , almost 148,000 firms faced serious financial problems and it is suggested that Government cuts are making the problem worse. The report predicted a rise as high as 10% in insolvencies in 2011, this means that as many as 23,500 small businesses could be affected.

In comparison with the July to September quarter of 2010, this period show an increase of 20% in the number of businesses facing serious or critical financial issues. There are “real signs of distress” within UK firms, according to the report.

The report from Begbies Traynor, insolvencies showed that those who had been experiencing critical problems owe more than £52.7bn to creditors, suppliers and service providers. This is down on the £57.5bn owed during the last quarter.

The trend is worrying as although the traditional forms of bank lending have all but dried up and invoice finance products such as invoice factoring have picked up the slack; the governments focus on late payment problems hasnt had the desired effect and more and more businesses are now referring non payers and later payers to debt recovery firms and debt collection specialists to reduce their debtor days.

Ric Traynor, Executive Chairman of Begbies Traynor Group, said:

“Today’s figures show that UK businesses are demonstrating real signs of distress and that trade creditors are both losing patience with their debtors and in need of collecting cash into their own businesses.”

The IT, business services and construction sectors in particular were feeling the pinch, it found. The report has shown that the sectors most affected by the public spending cuts are: construction, IT, recruitment, advertising and business services. With these sectors already seen a 24% increase in financial distress

“The figures demonstrate that the sectors most reliant on government spending are already feeling the impact of public sector cuts,” said Ric Traynor, chairman of Begbies Traynor.
“For smaller businesses, we are entering the darkest hour before the dawn;Ric Traynor Executive Chairman of Begbies Traynor.“With the full implementation of budget cuts only starting to show through in these figures, public sector-exposed sectors are likely to face significant increases in the level of corporate failures over the course of 2011.”

The report adds that retail firms will be hit hard by the increased pressure as high inflation, tax rises and job cuts results in less disposable income. This means that sectors that are not an essential for the average man would see “an increase in business failures”, he added. Last weeks figures show that inflation rose to 3.7% in December from 3.3% n November.

Figures also released last week show that unemployment rose by 49,000 to nearly 2.5 million between September and November.

In 2010 there were 15% fewer insolvencies that in 2009.

“For smaller businesses, we are entering the darkest hour before the dawn, as they face the dual challenges of weak domestic demand and greater pressure from larger competitors and business customers looking to preserve their own profitability,” said Mr Traynor.

Begbies Traynor Group

HMRC sends in debt collectors over unpaid taxes

February 2nd, 2011 in Business Chamber News by admin

HMRC, the UK’s Revenue & Customs department is set debt collection firms loose on wayward and late taxpayers to haul in up to £1.5 billion of unpaid taxes and other money owed as an extension of the plans it releases late last year.

The purge will see the debt collection agencies used to bring in an extra £1.35 billion a year for the Government in a deal with private debt recovery firms thought to be worth up to £70 million.

When HMRC ran a pilot scheme last year it targeted taxpayers who owed more than £10,000 through the self-assessment system, those who had not paid their PAYE debts of up to £500 from before 2007, and those with had national Insurance bills of up to £700. As with private debts, the crackdown is expected to see those who owe just small amounts of a couple of hundred pounds being chased as the goalposts are widened through the scheme being expanded.

Unlike at present, debtors on the new ‘debt recovery’ scheme will not deal with HMRC officials to discuss payment but with private collection firms as the wayward taxpayers will have their bills passed on to these outside firms.

Whilst Tax experts have reacted angrily to the massive contracts being awarded to the debt collection firms public opinion is divided in the wake of austerity and everyone from Company Directors to self employed contractors are expected to pay what the owe in tax. Most of the working UK population has no choice to delay, withhold or avoid tax as they pay directly through their employers PAYE scheme, where the tax due is taken at source. As such, there is little sympathy for those whom are dodging their responsibilities.

Whilst the reason for the practice is somewhat accepted in the public eye, the worry is that, just as last February when HMRC thousands of taxpayers multiple tax codes and got their numbers wrong, that the same could happen here and debt recovery proceedings be initiated based on incorrect figures and data.

Also last year, in September HMRC was forced to admit that nearly 6m people had paid too little or too much tax in the previous two years and of these, some 1.5m owed nearly £4bn, - an average of £1,428 each.

What is somewhat controversial is that It is not just the taxman that is collecting the debts, but all Government departments including the DVLA, Department for Work and Pensions and the heavily criticized Student Loans Company, though it’s HMRC that is advertising for the collectors and who is thought to be the major beneficiary.