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SME customer charter to shore up credit lines

Do you own a small business? Having problems raising finance? NatWest and RBS are here to help! And all through the launch of a new "SME customer charter".

The banks say they're aiming to boost support for their 1.2 million business banking customers with the charter, which promises to lower overdraft rates, make fees more transparent and extend free banking so more start-ups have a chance to establish themselves.

"... Continue Reading


FSB: Tax tweaks would devastate holiday lettings firms

Give us a Break: that's what the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is urging the government in light of proposals to change the tax rules on furnished holiday lettings.

Under the changes, eight in ten small firms in the holiday sector could go bust, the FSB says. And all because taking away their tax breaks is likely to force job losses, stifle trade and cost the tourism industry millions.

As the situation stands... Continue Reading


Brewery giant Thwaites puts up pubs for sale

Pub and hotel owner Thwaites – recognisable to most as the brains behind the Lancaster Bomber and Nutty Black ales – has put up eight pubs for sale.

But the brewery giant has been criticised for specifying that prospective buyers of the East Lancashire outlets cannot continue to run them as pubs. The company's pubs for sale include Padiham's Victoria Hotel, Accrington's Adelphi and the Sportsman’s Arms in Blackbu... Continue Reading


Struggling business owners burning candle at both ends

More corporate insolvencies are the last thing the small business world wants to see, so what are company owners doing to keep bankruptcy from their doors? They're working 65 hours a week in some cases, that's what.

Number crunchers at Abbey and Alliance & Leicester Business Banking have been looking into the lengths small-firm owners are going to in a bid to keep their businesses afloat. And it turns out one in six are rea... Continue Reading


TV Dragon demands more help with raising finance for small firms

From Enterprise Tsar to small-screen Dragon: there must be something in the air prompting familiar faces to throw their two cents' worth on small businesses' finance woes into the ring.

After The Apprentice star Lord Alan Sugar was pilloried for deeming struggling small-firm owners "moaners", fellow entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne has spoken out in support of the very same recession-hit demographic.

There should ... Continue Reading


Blackpool watches building backlog of hotels for sale

Interesting figures to emerge from the Las Vegas of Lancashire this week: despite a healthy tourism season, Blackpool now has guest houses, self-catering apartments and hotels for sale to the tune of £72 million.

Number-crunchers say 300 holiday accommodation outlets have gone on the market in the last 12 months alone, but shifting them is proving a problem f... Continue Reading


The heart-warming tale of the Sun Inn pub sale

News of a pub sale with a difference reaches us this week, after two residents of a tiny Herefordshire village stepped in to stop their much-loved local falling into the hands of property developers.

Leintwardine's Sun Inn, one of the nation's last parlour pubs, was being put up for sale at auction until local businessmen Gary Seymour and Nick Davis came along with their offer after rallying around to raise the necessary fi... Continue Reading


Small firms are fuming but life is still sweet for Sugar

He left struggling small-business owners picking their jaws up off the floor when he called them "moaners" earlier this week, but so-called Enterprise Tsar Lord Alan Sugar still has the backing of the prime minister.

The national council of the 215,000-strong Federation of Small Businesses called for Sugar to be replaced by "someone with more understanding and empathy for the small business sector" after the comments, made at a finan... Continue Reading


Professional valuation tips for a smooth business sale

Using the services of professional valuers will go some way towards ensuring you don't pay more than necessary when buying a business. That, and taking a thorough look at stock levels, customer traffic and the books of account for tax returns.

Because it's illegal to under-report tax returns to the authorities, submitting the wrong figures after buying a business will attract penalties, notes business consultancy boss Josep... Continue Reading


Book wholesaler looks to acquisitions after successful business sale

After a year that saw it narrowly avoid going into administration, put up for sale and subsequently acquired by Smiths News, Norwich-based book wholesaler Bertrams is now looking to acquisitions of its own.

The positive progress is down to a £500,000 profit posted by the book and library supply business for the five months to the end of August, a boost that can probably be attributed to a handful of million-pound deals with the Dai... Continue Reading


Pizza people promise activity aplenty in fast food sector

Expect to see more restaurants for sale springing up in the coming months and years – perfect if you're looking to bring a touch of authentic Italian (well, Italian American) flavour to the business table.

US-owned pizza delivery franchiser Papa John's is set to open ten new stores before the year is out, bringing its 2009 total to 40. Over th... Continue Reading


London hotel sector looks ahead with optimism

If you're keeping an eye on hotels for sale in the London area, you'll be glad to hear the results of PricewaterhouseCoopers' latest UK hotel forecast - it shows the industry's over the worst, though a drop in corporate travel has undoubtedly left the sector weakened.

Liz Hall, the accountancy firm's head of hotels research, says budge... Continue Reading


Entrepreneurial spirit sees small businesses through the downturn

Small Business Week 2009 is upon us, if you hadn't noticed, and BT Business have released the results of this year's Business Pulse report, which they say is the UK’s biggest survey of small and medium-sized businesses.

Out of over 7,000 respondents, three-quarters reckon the economy is set to pick up next year, with an optimistic 35 per cent pencilling... Continue Reading


Due diligence gives National Express consortium cold feet

After a five-week due diligence process, Spain's Cosmen family and CVC Capital Partners have walked away from a National Express takeover, sending the bus and coach operator's shares plunging.

Talks have also been ended by Stagecoach, which had been liaising with the consortium about purchasing National Express's UK bus and rail operations.

Sources have suggested due diligence presented "lots of little thi... Continue Reading


RBS launches credit help hotline for small businesses

It could be good news from Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) for cash-strapped small businesses this week.

The owner of Natwest, now 70 per cent controlled by the nation's taxpayers, is feeling pressure from the Treasury to hit lending targets and is thus pulling out the stops to attract more small business banking customers, we hear.

And the first step? A new hotline - staffed by senior bankers with experience of previo... Continue Reading