Page last updated at 01:15 GMT, Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Big freeze 'cost Scottish firms 700m'

Snow puts van in ditch
The weather disrupted supply channels and delivery routes

The big freeze left smaller Scottish firms facing losses of more than £716m, according to a Bank of Scotland study.

It found 68% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) had been affected financially by the freezing winter weather.

More than a third saw their premises cut off or closed due to power supply issues, while 42% experienced disruption to supply and deliveries.

Companies with an annual turnover of up to £15m took part in the study.

The results come after 28% of SMEs reported negative growth in the last financial year.

According to the research, 27% of those questioned were forced to close for at least one day due to the winter weather, while one in six (16%) had to halt business for at least five days.

'Combined impact'

Donald Kerr, Bank of Scotland's head of commercial banking for Scotland, said: "Scotland's businesses have faced a double blow over the past few months.

"They have had to grapple with the downturn in trade as a result of the recession as well as the impact of the severe weather conditions.

"The combined impact of both the recession and winter will inevitably have caused cash-flow problems for many firms."

Almost two-thirds of the businesses questioned said the disruption caused by the harsh winter conditions had had a direct financial impact on them.

More than a third (35%) claimed to have taken a financial hit of up to £10,000, while one in six (16%) estimated the cost to have been somewhere between £10,000 and £30,000.

A total of 6% said the cost could be more than £30,000.

However, just over a fifth (22%) said they had been unaffected by the freezing conditions and one in 10 (10%) said they had prospered during the winter months.

The overall cost of the harsh winter to UK SMEs was more than £7bn, the research suggested.

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