Page last updated at 10:11 GMT, Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Cold winter 'cost UK small firms 7bn'

Van that has gone off the road in snow in Berkshire in January
Lloyds said 42% of firms experienced disrupted supplies or deliveries

The worst winter in decades has cost the UK's small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) about £7.3bn, a study has said.

With snow and ice hitting deliveries and causing firms to close up shop, 70% of SMEs said their trade was affected, said Lloyds TSB Commercial.

Of the 1,003 firms questioned, 23% said they were unaffected, and 7% said the cold weather had helped their trade.

Lloyds said Welsh companies suffered the most during the winter.

'Double blow'

The study found that across the UK, 39% of SMEs were directly affected, which it determines as a company which was either forced to close its premises, or saw it cut off by snow or ice.

Meanwhile, 42% said they suffered indirectly through disrupted supplies or deliveries.

In addition, some said they experienced both a direct and indirect impact on their trade.

Businesses in Wales suffered the most direct impact - 59% - with those in the West Midlands the least affected - 30%.

"Businesses have faced a double blow over the past few months," said Stephen Pegge, head of external affairs for Lloyds TSB Commercial.

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

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