UK’s ‘zombie’ firms will be wiped out by interest rates, says insolvency specialist


Interest Rates to Purge UK's Debt-Laden "Zombie" FirmsBritain’s business landscape is bracing for a significant transformation as experts anticipate the imminent eradication of the nation’s debt-laden “zombie” companies.

Renowned insolvency specialist, Begbies Traynor, has boldly predicted that these struggling enterprises, which have managed to stave off bankruptcy due to favorable borrowing costs, will succumb to their financial woes by the close of next year.

Ric Traynor, the esteemed executive chairman of Begbies Traynor, an authoritative voice on the state of UK businesses, shared his insights with Bloomberg, asserting, “Over the next 18 months, we are poised to witness the decisive conclusion of virtually all these entities.”

This forecast signals a pivotal turning point in the economic landscape, poised to reshape the nation’s corporate ecosystem.

Begbies Traynor’s remarkable success, characterized by consistent double-digit growth in both annual revenue and profits, stems from a surge in insolvency appointments, bolstered by their commendable track record in managing mid-sized insolvencies.

Additionally, their prudent business strategy incorporates strategic acquisitions and the provision of exemplary property services, further solidifying their position as a trusted industry leader.

Interest Rates to Purge UK’s Debt-Laden “Zombie” Firms

The economic landscape in England and Wales is grappling with the consequences of escalating energy and wage expenses, compounded by surging interest rates, as evidenced by a remarkable 24-year high in company insolvencies.

Official data from the Insolvency Service unveils a staggering 40% year-on-year increase, with 2,552 companies filing for insolvency in May, marking the highest level since 2009. It is noteworthy that these figures surpass the insolvency rates observed during the pandemic when governmental support measures were in effect.

Despite the challenging environment, Begbies remains steadfast, delivering impressive results that exceed expectations. Bolstered by a pre-tax profit of £6 million, a significant rise from the previous year’s £4 million, the company has announced a commendable 9% increase in its dividend to 3.8p per share. With revenues soaring by 11% to £121.8 million, Begbies is well-positioned to navigate the evolving insolvency landscape.

As a dominant player, commanding an 11% share of the administration market, Begbies aspires to handle larger and more intricate insolvency cases. Ric Traynor, the company’s spokesperson, emphasized, “Our insolvency team is poised to capitalize on recent appointments and a burgeoning order book, with the expectation of further growth in the insolvency market.”

Recognizing the trends in the industry, Traynor noted a surge in activity among smaller companies over the past year, as they often bear the brunt of economic challenges. With a strategic focus on mid-market enterprises, Begbies is now venturing into this segment to address their unique needs.

In pursuit of expansion, Begbies has strategically acquired several entities to enhance its capabilities. These include the London-based property finance brokerage Mantra Capital, as well as two esteemed chartered surveyors—Budworth Hardcastle in eastern England and Mark Jenkinson & Son in South Yorkshire. Furthermore, in May, Begbies strengthened its presence in eastern England through the acquisition of another reputable chartered surveyor, Banks Long & Co. These strategic moves bolster the company’s position and ensure its continued growth.

The specter of rising interest rates looms over the debt-laden “zombie” firms, heralding an imminent reckoning for their financial survival. As borrowing costs escalate, these companies, which have managed to stay afloat despite their debt burdens, are now faced with an insurmountable challenge.

The anticipated surge in interest rates is expected to act as the final blow, effectively wiping out these struggling enterprises. With their ability to service debts severely compromised, the days of these “zombie” firms are numbered.

The economic landscape is poised for a transformative shift as these entities face the inevitable consequences of their financial vulnerability.

Steve Jones Profile
Insolvency & Restructuring Expert at Business Insolvency Helpline

With over three decades of experience in the business and turnaround sector, Steve Jones is one of the founders of Business Insolvency Helpline. With specialist knowledge of Insolvency, Liquidations, Administration, Pre-packs, CVA, MVL, Restructuring Advice and Company investment.