Business credit scores stabilise despite ongoing challenges

Experian reveals how UK business credit scores have fared from the start of the pandemic to September 2021. South-West ranks highest, while the retail sector shows resilience.

UK, 3 December 2021: New research from Experian, which analyses 2.2 million UK businesses, has revealed that, on average, businesses’ credit scores are recovering well from the impact of COVID-19.

Using Experian’s Commercial Delphi Score calculator, business credit score levels were back up to the pre-pandemic average of 44 by September 2021, compared to a score of 40 throughout most of lockdown.

A business credit score is the measure of a business's creditworthiness, which is made up from a number of factors to understand the financial position of a business and its level of financial risk. The score ranges from 0 to 100, with 0 representing a high risk and 100 representing a low risk. It’s one indicator lenders use to assess businesses seeking growth funding.

Looking at how business credit scores have changed by industry during the period in question, the retail sector, for one, has shown resilience, pivoting to digital platforms, and continuing to serve consumers despite restrictions and challenges presented by not only the pandemic, but also issues with global supply chains and labour shortages.

While credit scores in this sector are still, on average, below pre-pandemic levels, the average jumped sharply in September 2021 and now stands at 31 – a 19.2% increase compared to the same period in 2020.  

Conversely, the travel sector, which has been hit hardest by lockdown restrictions, has fared worse. Average scores hit a new low of 30.5 in September 2021 – a drop of 30.7% compared to March 2020.

When we look at average scores by region, the South West has led the way, buoyed by an influx of tourism through the summer months, averaging at 49.8 between March 2020 and September 2021.

East Midlands also performed well – averaging 45.6 over the same time period. By August 2021, organisations in the North East of England had collectively reached a business credit score of 44, matching its pre-pandemic levels, and since then improved its score to 45 in September 2021.

London businesses were least impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, despite having the lowest average scores across the UK. Average scores remained consistent at 26 throughout the first lockdown in 2020, only dropping a single point to 25 in December. The capital remained at this level throughout the 2021 winter lockdown but has since recovered to its pre-pandemic level.

London is generally considered a start-up hotspot, so it’s likely that the average age of many of these businesses is lower than other parts of the country. More established companies tend to have a more detailed credit history, translating into a more positive credit score. Meanwhile, younger businesses usually score lower.

James McGarva, Managing Director of Business Information Services at Experian, said: “The UK business sector can be proud of what it has achieved over the last 18 months. Despite ongoing pressures presented not only by the impact of COVID-19, but also other well-documented macroeconomic pressures such as labour shortages and global supply chain issues, the ability of businesses to adapt has been impressive.

“By looking at business credit scores on a national scale, we can see how many businesses’ financial circumstances are improving, presenting a lower risk for lenders and therefore enhancing their prospects of getting access to the finance they need to thrive. We would encourage all businesses to keep a check on their credit histories and take steps to improve their scores where possible.”

-ENDS-

Appendix:

Seven steps to improve your business credit scores:

  1. View your business credit report to understand the positive and negative factors in your history and plan the best path for progress.
  2. Make a note of suppliers’ payment terms and plan payments so they are on time. Poor payment performance can indicate a business struggling to service its debts.
  3. File annual returns and financial accounts on time. Making more information on your business available helps suppliers, utility providers and lenders to understand it and make appropriate decisions.
  4. Avoid County Court Judgments. Should one occur, settle it promptly.
  5. Keep an eye on your personal finances. Directors’ personal credit scores can be considered for new businesses when little information is available.
  6. Appoint a director with a strong history of running companies and a good credit score to help boost your company’s standing.
  7. Check and monitor the credit status of the companies you work with, so you can anticipate any supply chain problems before it affects your business.

What does your Experian business credit score mean?

Delphi Score

Category

0

Failed company

1

Imminently failing company

2-15

Maximum risk

16-25

High risk

26-50

Above average risk

51-80

Below average risk

81-90

Low risk

91-100

Very low risk

Methodology

The Experian Commercial Delphi Score, which powers the data provided in this report is an analytical tool designed to highlight the strength, performance and ultimately the creditworthiness of a company. Scores range from between 0 and 100 – a score of 0 represents a high risk, while a score of 100 indicates that a business presents a very low financial risk. 

The Experian Commercial Delphi Score is calculated by monitoring and measuring a number of KPIs for every business, including financial results, average trade creditor time, county court judgements, director track record, insolvency events, delays in financial reporting filing and credit applications.

This report takes all businesses within any given period that have a Delphi Score and calculates the median value for that population. Populations do vary from month to month, as businesses exist or enter the report – for example a firm may have been operating with a Delphi score in June and therefore would be included, however if it closed down the following month its score would then not be included in the average.

Media contacts:

Joseph Green, Senior PR Manager, Corporate & Business, UK&I, Experian

Tel: +44 (0)7812 737 768  / E: Joseph.green@experian.com 

About Experian

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