Cut out the slow-paying caterers

James Leman, J L Foods Ltd

I write with concern about two areas on the catering side of the meat industry.

Firstly, I urge any butcher or meat wholesaler who supplies to the pub/restaurant/hotel industry to analyse their business operations and scrutinise their cash flow and aged debtors carefully. Upon careful consideration of required overheads to carry out their operation specifically the catering side, actual attainable margins and the high risk of bad debts, along with overstretched cash flow to finance their operation, it would become apparent to many within the industry that the catering side of their business may be unviable, and laden with unnecessary risk a fact many butchers are just too frightened to accept.

My second area of concern is directed towards the end-user within the catering industry whether they be a pub, restaurant or hotel. Please do not delay paying your suppliers or you risk losing them. Much of the catering industry is reliant upon the butcher giving their customers credit and far too much credit but this results in a situation where the butcher feels trapped for fear of not receiving any payments at all.

There appears no excuse for the supplier not to be paid upon delivery unless, of course, financial matters are not in hand with the customer and monies owed to the supplier are being used to service other debts. A butcher will run around with multiple, daily deliveries in refrigerated vehicles, employing staff specifically to answer the whims of each particular customer, only to be kept waiting for payment sometimes up to eight weeks or more. It is disgraceful behaviour from the customer.

I urge the industry to wake up, pay on time or lose your suppliers. I urge the butchers to be bold, cut out the slow payers, reduce your turnover, and overheads if needed, and sleep peacefully at night!