Corporate restructuring – can it soften the blow for cash-poor businesses?

While the cost-of-living crisis, owing to record-high inflation, interest rate rises and the subsequent increase in the cost of everyday goods puts pressure on consumer spending, British businesses are also wrestling to stay afloat. Labour shortages and supply chain issues stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic and the Ukraine war continue to heighten the scale of disruption experienced by businesses.

During the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of UK businesses increased their borrowing in the form of a Bounce Back Loan or Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan to replenish rapidly repleting cash flow and to keep creditors at bay. Now that Covid-19 loan repayments have commenced, clashing with the cost of living crisis, how are cash-poor businesses excepted to survive?

Is business restructuring the answer?

The cost of living crisis quickly deemed business models and operational structures that were once successful and helped generate a healthy profit, as unsustainable, leaving company directors in a precarious position. If businesses are struggling to maintain their business under current conditions, taking into account the increase in overheads as a result of the cost of living crisis, what must they do to survive?

The first sign that a business is struggling is likely to be creditor pressure, either in the form of a payment reminder, final demand, or threat of court action. Company directors may seek to raise funds to placate creditors until their business can be nursed back to long-term health, or risk further action from creditors, such as a winding up petition.

A winding up petition is often the last resort taken by a creditor to recover money unless the business already takes action to protect creditor interests by entering a suitable insolvency procedure or seeking restructuring support from a licensed insolvency practitioner.

What is corporate restructuring?

Corporate restructuring is conducted by a licensed insolvency practitioner and involves reviewing the existing set-up of a company, and its operational, legal, and financial structure. The primary aim of restructuring a business is increasing its efficiency and making the cash that enters the business work harder, and last longer.

Restructuring a company can range from refinancing to provide a cash boost, streamlining operations to eliminate unnecessary complications, or entering a formal insolvency procedure to either rescue or close a business.

Refinancing – Refinancing is when an existing debt facility is replaced with another with more favourable terms, or the terms of an existing agreement are renegotiated to form a new agreement. Refinancing can sometimes present a more cost-efficient option for the long term.

Streamlining – The process of streamlining a business involves identifying and eliminating inefficiencies by introducing technology and revising methodologies.

Corporate simplification – This involves simplifying the structure of a business by removing any unnecessary complexities. It stamps out any duplication to maximise the cash in the business and ensures that the business grows in a lean fashion to make way for steady growth.

Insolvency – If the business is in financial distress or under pressure from creditors to make payment, entering an insolvency procedure can aid the rescue of a business, satisfy creditors and revive company finances.

By proactively taking steps to repair relationships with creditors and protect the financial health of a business, businesses can stand firm in the face of the ongoing cost of living crisis and recover from the damaging effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Keith Tully is a partner at Real Business Rescue, a corporate insolvency and business recovery practice dedicated to helping company directors in financial distress. Keith heads up the Liverpool office of Real Business Rescue, and operates across the North West region to help business owners detrimentally hit by the cost of living crisis get back on track. From providing Bounce Back Loan support to advice on dealing with HMRC tax debts, Keith provides confidential restructuring and turnaround advice to directors in distress.

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