03 January 2002 | David Arminas
Suppliers are set to suffer increased payment delays in 2002 as their clients conserve cash by holding back on settling invoices.
The latest survey by customer relations management company Experian found that suppliers still wait 60 days for payment following their invoice, which is unchanged from last May.
A spokesman for Experian, which produces the largest late payment survey for the UK covering 190,000 firms, told SM: "Late payment will get worse because the trading situation is getting trickier.
"For example, large clients in the export market are not being paid on time by their own clients in Japan and America. This will trickle down to UK suppliers."
Last year, it was revealed that the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 had failed to cut delays, raising fears that finance departments were jeopardising relations with suppliers.
Experian's latest survey found continuing wide variations in payment times according to the sector and size of client.
Pharmaceutical and chemical companies improved payment to suppliers by an average of eight days, settling invoices in between 61 and 64 days.
The largest increase in delays was by construction, financial services and property clients, which make suppliers wait between five and seven days more than last May.
Suppliers in the oil sector remain most affected by late payment, waiting up to 72 days. But this has improved by almost four days from last May.