FPB slams bathroom fittings group

The Forum of Private Business (FPB) says it has placed one of the UK's leading bathroom suppliers into its late payment "Hall of Shame" after it doubled payment times from 30 to 60 days.

It has also introduced an accumulation period for invoicing which can add up to another 30 days to the process - taking it to as much as 90 days for payments to suppliers to clear.

The Staffordshire-based Bristan Group has written to its suppliers to make them aware of the changes, and to explain why payment could now take much longer depending on the time of the month invoices are received.

The company - one of the country's largest suppliers of bathroom fittings and supplies - cites changes at its US parent company, Masco, which it says is standardising payment terms across its entire enterprise.

The FPB this week wrote to inform Bristan it is being added to the Hall of Shame, joining other household names including Dell, Argos, United Biscuits and Carlsberg, all of which have been identified previously as slow payers.

"Small businesses continue to suffer from the blight of late payment, which devastates cash flow and forces firms into administration," said the forum's senior policy adviser, Phil McCabe.

"Companies like Bristan have a responsibility to pay promptly - failure to do so can mean the whole supply chain seizes up and threatens the viability of smaller firms who rely on steady cash flow.

"All too often when small suppliers receive a letter like Bristan have sent out, they have no choice but to agree to the new terms however punishing they are, and remain silent. There is little room for bargaining for the fear they will lose business. That fear is even more daunting in the current economic climate."

A spokesperson for Bristan said:"At Bristan we have a strong policy to pay to the agreed credit terms with all our suppliers and adhere to this at every occasion.

"In addition we are a very safe business to work with, being classified by D&B (Dunn & Bradstreet) in the top one per cent of businesses in the industry, based on financial strength and low risk."

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