EU to retaliate: last thing we need now is the EU-US trade war

Yesterday, the European Commission announced the European Union will impose tariffs on US exports of lighters, furniture coatings and playing cards. “The EU is adopting measures in reaction to the U.S. extension of its import duties on steel and aluminium to certain derivative products,” a Commission spokesperson told POLITICO.

In response, Luca Bertoletti, Senior European Affairs Manager at the Consumer Choice Center, said that “this move from the Commission is very dangerous. In a moment of crisis such as this, it appears counterproductive to impose tariffs on US products especially since the US is one of the leading partners to fight the battle against COVID-19.

“There is always what’s seen and what’s unseen. By aiming to hit the US where it hurts in a trade war, the EU will end up hurting its own consumers, not only US exporters. A peaceful transatlantic trade dependency, not a destructive trade war should be the way forward,” said Maria Chaplia, CCC European Affairs Associate.

“Trade wars are a lose-lose game. Trade agreements, on the contrary, are not only rewarding because they benefit consumers on both ends, but also because they build bridges of partnership and cooperation between nations. Sometimes victory is about choosing to restrain from retaliation. Especially, when it comes to trade,” concluded Chaplia.

OECD updates G20 summit on outlook for global economy

Increasingly stringent containment measures needed to slow the spread of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) will necessarily lead to significant short-term declines in GDP for many major economies, according to new OECD projections.

OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, in preparation to the G20 Virtual Summit that took place yesterday, unveiled the latest OECD estimates showing that the lockdown will directly affect sectors amounting to up to one third of GDP in the major economies. For each month of containment, there will be a loss of 2 percentage points in annual GDP growth. The tourism sector alone faces an output decrease as high as 70%. Many economies will fall into recession. This is unavoidable, as we need to continue fighting the pandemic, while at the same time putting all the efforts to be able to restore economic normality as fast as possible.

“The high costs that public health measures are imposing today are necessary to avoid much more tragic consequences and even worse impact on our economies tomorrow,” Mr Gurría said. “Millions of deaths and collapsed health care systems will decimate us financially and as a society, so slowing this epidemic and saving human lives must be governments’ first priority.

“Our analysis further underpins the need for sharper action to absorb the shock, and a more coordinated response by governments to maintain a lifeline to people and a private sector that will emerge in a very fragile state when the health crisis is past.”

Mr. Gurría welcomed the outcome of the G20 Virtual Summit, hosted by the Saudi Presidency, and the resolve shown by the G20 members to use all ammunition to support people and SME’s. In his statement, Mr Gurría built on his recent call for a “global Marshall Plan” to counteract the pandemic’s effects. To “inoculate” economies to current and future shocks, he urged the G20 Leaders to act immediately, to:

  • Recapitalise health & epidemiological systems;
  • Mobilise all macroeconomic levers: monetary, fiscal, and structural policies;
  • Lift existing trade restrictions especially on much needed medical supplies;
  • Provide support to vulnerable developing and low income countries;
  • Share and implement best practices to support workers and all individuals, employed and unemployed – particularly the most vulnerable;
  • Keep businesses afloat, particularly small and medium-sized firms, with special support packages in hardest hit sectors such as tourism.

Mr Gurría stressed that the implications for annual GDP growth will ultimately depend on many factors, including the magnitude and duration of national shutdowns, the extent of reduced demand for goods and services in other parts of the economy and the speed at which significant fiscal and monetary support takes effect.

In all economies, the majority of this impact comes from the hit to output in retail and wholesale trade, and in professional and real estate services. There are notable cross-country differences in some sectors, with closures of transport manufacturing relatively important in some countries, while the decline in tourist and leisure activities is relatively important in others.

The impact effect of business closures could result in reductions of 15% or more in the level of output throughout the advanced economies and major emerging-market economies. In the median economy, output would decline by 25%.

Variations in the impact effect across economies reflect differences in the composition of output. Many countries in which tourism is relatively important could potentially be affected more severely by shutdowns and limitations on travel. At the other extreme, countries with relatively sizeable agricultural and mining sectors, including oil production, may experience smaller initial effects from containment measures, although output will be subsequently hit by reduced global commodity demand.

There will also be some variation in the timing of the initial impact on output across economies, reflecting differences in the timing and degree of containment measures. In China, the peak adverse impact on output is already past, with some shutdown measures now being eased.

The OECD has committed its expertise to support governments in developing effective policies in any sector necessary to slow the pandemic’s spread and blunt its economic and societal effects – from health, taxes, labour and employment to SME’s, education, science and technology, trade and investment and more. Through its brand-new platform launched in response to the crisis, OECD provides timely data, analysis, advice and solutions as well as information on policy responses in countries around the world.

Small businesses facing mental health crisis as Coronavirus piles on the woes

UK small business’ previous positivity about their future performance is being overshadowed by stress, anxiety and sleepless nights over access to finance according to research from Liberis, a fintech on a mission to reshape small business finance for good.

While an encouraging 61% of small businesses in the UK questioned before the Coronavirus outbreak were confident of success in 2021 and beyond, mental health and wellness issues are currently impacting almost nine out of ten (86%) as a direct result of difficulties in raising finance and managing cashflow within their business.

The research, which contrasted the attitudes and behaviours of UK small businesses with their peers in the US, found that 83% of business owners suffer from anxiety and 81% from sleepless nights as a direct result of worries over raising finance. A further 75% also said it had impacted their personal relationships. (This compares to 91%, 85% and 86% respectively for small businesses in the US.)

Financial concerns have also led to more than two thirds (69%) of UK small businesses feeling the need to forego personal obligations (dinner with friends, parents’ evenings, and even weddings) compared to 75% of small businesses in the US.

Rob Straathof, CEO at Liberis, says that the financial community should do more to relieve the stress felt by small businesses: “Access to finance should not be a stressful experience,” he says. “While the Government should be congratulated on the measures it announced in the budget and its subsequent £330 billion loans package, it is critical for the support to be distributed as quickly as possible if businesses are to be supported through the current crisis. We need to work with the Government to allow for quick underwriting and access to finance that works with fluctuating sales and won’t tie the business down in the long-term. Small businesses don’t have time to wait on legacy systems and approvals.

“There will also be life after Coronavirus,” says Straathof, “and we need to listen to small businesses in addressing their concerns. Working from home and social distancing are both issues we have never faced before, and while businesses will need support in the immediate term, we also need to look to their longer-term needs. Our goal is to reshape small business finance for good and that means providing funding that is appropriate, sustainable, and that gives them access to funds quickly when they need it.”

Straathof adds that almost half (48%) of small businesses believe that access to finance is the single biggest support they need to achieve their future potential: “We need to provide finance that ‘flexes’ with their customer sales, where the business pays less when times are difficult, and more when business is booming again,” Rob continues. “We need to be supporting their mental health by making access to finance easier and more transparent, not adding to it with unnecessary delay, confusion and intransigence.”

As well as speaking to UK and US firms, the research also looked at the experience of Scandinavian businesses in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. By every benchmark, Scandinavian firms track below their UK/US counterparts although 81% still admit to being stressed and 85% suffer from anxiety when trying to access cash.

Liberis provides an innovative funding solution which aligns with the needs and capacity of the small business. The cash advanced is paid for by the small business as a fixed, agreed percentage of the business’ customer card takings. The solution is ideally suited to businesses such as retailers and owners of restaurants, bars and clubs, since they pay Liberis when their customers pay them. This supports the business with its cashflow and takes into account seasonal peaks and troughs.

Coronavirus lockdown: 10 steps SMEs can take to still be in be in business this time next year

The small business champion ParcelHero says the new Government lockdown doesn’t have to spell the end for SME businesses. It has issued a ten-step guide to making full use of the Government’s latest coronavirus SME aid schemes.

The UK courier services expert ParcelHero says that, even following the tough new Government measures closing non-essential stores and imposing travel restrictions, the majority of the UKs 5.9 million SME businesses and retailers will survive the coronavirus outbreak if they get to grips with the latest Government SME assistance packages quickly.

Says ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT: “Hard though it is to believe right now, as the full impact of the virus only begins to take hold, but there will be a time when this is over. Here are our top ten key ways SMEs can get the best out of the Government’s rescue packages, and survive this crisis

1 – Retain Key workers, even if they are not essential right now

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) enables employers to access grants, by the end of April at the latest, from the UK’s tax authority to allow them to keep paying staff. The government says 80% of gross wages in the private sector, up to £2,500 a month, for those not working and who would otherwise have been laid off, will be covered by these grants from HM Revenue and Customs.

SMEs will need to designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify their employees of this change.

2 – Don’t exploit the system

The latest guidance says that employers can choose to top-up CJRS pay, either for the unfunded 20% of pay or the amount above £2,500 for higher earners, but this will not be a formal requirement to obtain access to the scheme. Our advice is that those companies who do top-up pay will be more likely to retain key workers post-crises. We also advise companies not to try and manipulate the scheme. Where a business can carry on without those physical interactions, for instance by working remotely, it should be business as usual. The scheme isn’t designed as a wage subsidy for SME employers.

3 – Reclaim sick pay coverage for current workers

A new scheme will shortly be available to allow SMEs to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to Covid-19. This refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of the virus. Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees don’t need to provide a GP fit note. The Government says it will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible.

4 – Investigate potential CBILS Government backed loans

The newly founded British Business Bank’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) facilitates business loans to smaller businesses that are viable but unable to obtain finance due to having insufficient security to meet the lender’s normal requirements because of the Covid-19 crises. In this situation, CBILS provides the lender with a government-backed 80% guarantee against the outstanding facility balance.

The Government will make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.

5 – Be cautious of CBILS risks

CBILS comes with strings, however. The borrower always remains 100% liable for the debt. Any loan of over £250k will need to be secured by company assets. SMEs should ask themselves; do you really need to borrow against a secured loan now?

6 – Read the small print of CBILS’ terms

CBILS is for borrowing proposals which, were it not for the current COVID-19 pandemic, would be considered viable by the lender. Research how much more generous the CBILS’ terms really are than the suspended Enterprise Funding Grant (EFG) scheme SMEs may have applied for previously. ParcelHero believes it is vital the Financial Conduct Authorities’ CBILS guidance is taken into account by lenders, that they must take on board the spirit of the new loan scheme and not stick to former ‘peacetime’ criteria. Otherwise the nation just undertook to back 80 % of loans banks would make anyway.

7 – Defer VAT and Income Tax payments

An automatic VAT deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. No applications are required for the deferral and businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. And, for the self-employed, Income Tax Self-Assessment payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021.

8 – 12-month business rates ‘holiday’

The Government has announced it will introduce a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. SMEs’ don’t need to take any action to qualify for this. It will apply to their next council tax bill in April 2020. However, local authorities may have to reissue companies’ bills automatically to exclude the business rate charge; they will do this as soon as possible.

9 – Grant funding of up to £25,000

Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000 will qualify for the Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme. This provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.

For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000, they will receive a grant of £10,000. For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000, they will receive a grant of £25,000. The local authority will write to all SMEs eligible for this grant shortly.

10 – The HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

One final useful Government measure is the announcement that all businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. These arrangements will be agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. If an SME has missed a tax payment or might miss its next payment due to COVID-19, it can call HMRC’s dedicated helpline: 0800 0159 559.

Concludes David: “Those SME companies that make full use of the help on offer from Government, but don’t commit to schemes that might become a significant burden in the future, will be in a significantly healthier position than looked likely just a few days ago, even following the new Government lock down. And the final good news is that, despite all the horror stories of overstretched online food stores, and escalating delivery times for some e-commerce giants, the majority of UK and international destinations are still well-served by couriers, to ensure SME’s goods continue to get to customers safely. Our live UK courier services guide constantly updates which courier services are currently available to a particular destination.”

Just suspends enforcement due to coronavirus epidemic

Since my last letter to stakeholders the government have announced further measures to combat the spread of the virus, namely the decision to close schools, to direct that restaurants, pubs, and cafes close, and to repeatedly highlight the need and requirement for social distancing.

In light of the above, Just have formed a working party made up of customers, advisors, and members of staff to consider the impact on our requirements and my duties to enforce Writs of Control that either have already been issued or are in the process of being issued.

Careful consideration

After careful consideration, I can now advise that Just will be implementing the following steps:

  • All attendances by our panel of enforcement agencies will be suspended for an initial period of 30 days.
  • Our compliance period will be extended from the statutory seven days to 30 days for cases that are in the process of being issued and all new instructions received within the next 30 days will be held in compliance for a 30-day period.
  • Where we have cases that are either in the first or second enforcement stage or due to be allocated to an enforcement agency for attendances, we will write to the debtor advising that they have an additional 30 days to arrange payment before an attendance will be made.
  • For cases that are subject to an agreed payment plan, we will continue to monitor and recover payments in accordance with the agreement that has been reached, but will only take enforcement steps using remote processes such as telephone, e-mail, and letter.

Continued dialogue

Please be assured that we are reviewing this developing situation on a daily basis and remain in dialogue with our advisors, the Civil Court Users Association and the High Court Enforcement Officers Association and will resume our normal operational practices when it is appropriate to do so.

We thank all of our clients, our panel of enforcement agencies, and our internal team for supporting our decision, which has been made in order to put the safety of our team and the public first.

By Chris Badger, authorised High Court enforcement officer and director of legal and compliance at Just

Five tips for businesses to maximise efficiency during crisis

Whenever there’s a crisis, as humans, we tend to lose control just a little bit. But when it comes to business, leaders must work to minimise the disruption and maximise efficiency for the long-term benefit of staff, customers and suppliers.

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s become clear business owners should have a plan to tackle issues impacting normal daily operations. Whilst a crisis plan is the most favourable option, not everyone will have one in place. That’s when attention falls onto businessowners working within our communities to think about maximising efficiency when faced with staff downtime, working from home or supplier issues. Kevin Riley, a business growth specialist from ActionCOACH Warwick knows all too well the challenges local businesses are facing currently.

“It’s important for businesses to have a contingency plan in place to factor in what happens in a range of crises,” says Kevin. “Whilst it doesn’t contain every specific detail for a ‘worst-case scenario’, it can definitely help put a business owner’s mind at rest. Instead of starting to find solutions from scratch, a crisis plan can help you to move forward from a considered base point to begin dealing with the situation rationally. If you don’t have a plan in place or you’re wondering what processes to put in place to make business feel as normal as possible, I have a few tips.”

Here are Kevin’s top tips for maximising efficiency during periods of crisis:

1. Keeping things going. The most advantageous way of keeping your business going is to consider the implications that the crisis will have. If your staff are having to work from home, what actions must you take to make that happen? Do they have the space and tech to work? Communicate carefully what is expect of them during this time.

2. Put steps in place. If your work is reliant on work facilities, such as those in manufacturing, is it possible to split teams and shifts to reduce the spread of the virus and keep business going?

3. Be proactive. During the downtime, take the opportunity to catch up on any outstanding tasks, plan for the future and tackle your to-do list. Get your team to focus and work on writing systems, processes and marketing plans so that, when the market picks back up again, you are ready to go. You’ll be well ahead of the curve as soon as the market changes.

4. Maintaining your service. If the crisis does cause unnecessary problems for your business, how can you remain one step ahead? In this case, you can reassure customers you’ve got measures in place to avoid spreading the virus. If you do have to work remotely, you can offer video conferencing for your clients to maintain that connection. You can stay in contact, whilst putting the correct procedures in place to keep everyone safe.

5. Don’t stop prospecting. If you feel uncomfortable or unsure about visiting new clients face-to-face, don’t forget about your existing clients. You should be reassuring them you’re still there to deliver your best service or product – you’re still the same dependable and trustworthy business you always were.

Kevin adds, “Whilst some businesses are wondering how to survive this latest pending economic crisis due to the virus, you could be missing an opportunity to do so much more. By preparing yourself, as the business leader, and your staff, you have a chance of exiting this crisis stronger than before.”

Self-isolation: How to handle your mental health when dealing with COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread at a rapid pace, people of the UK are strongly advised to self-isolate between seven and fourteen days when symptoms of the virus begin to show. With 600 cases already confirmed in the UK, coronavirus has caused a huge surge in anxiety, depression and OCD for the people of the UK, and is further severely impacting those with existing mental health conditions.

The process of self-isolation includes the affected individuals having to remain indoors, making sure to have no physical contact with people outside. These self-isolation and social distancing periods alongside wider concerns surrounding coronavirus have caused a huge surge in stress and anxiety for the people of the UK and is further severely impacting those with existing mental health conditions- in particular those suffering from anxiety and depression. This is particularly concerning as 1 in 6 people already report experiencing mental illnesses in any given week, without the threat of coronavirus.

Gerard Barnes, CEO of mental health treatment specialists, Smart TMS, gives his insight on the mental health implications of self-isolation caused by coronavirus and provides tips on how to prepare emotionally.

“It is certainly important to take the necessary precautions to protect one’s physical health given the circumstances surrounding the spread of COVID-19. However, the mass media coverage, distribution of inaccurate information and the constant barrage of precautionary health advice has the potential to severely impact the nation’s mental-wellbeing, specifically those already suffering with chronic anxiety, depression or OCD.

Stay Active

When self-isolating, it is important to make sure that you stay active. Avoiding gyms and exercising at home for approximately three hours a week can help to fight symptoms of mental illness. In a study of 8,000 men and women, it was found that people who were less physically active were more at risk of anxiety and depression. The more exercise you do, the lower your risks of depression; this risk would fall a further 17% with an additional 30 minutes of daily activity.

Talk about your feelings

Not being in close proximity to people can have a negative impact on your mood and energy levels. However, it is important to make sure you talk about your feelings with loved ones to improve your mood and make it easier to deal with these stressful and lonely times. Regular text messages or even video calling family and friends are certain to have a positive impact on your mood.

Eat well and stay hydrated

Make sure to think about your diet carefully- this is vital to both your physical and mental health. If your regular routine changes or you are less active than usual, your blood sugar levels are certain to affect your mood and energy levels, so be sure to eat healthily and drink enough water to ensure your body is in its best condition.”

What Lessons Can Business Learn From The Six Nations Rugby Tournament?

People in businesses can be roughly divided into two types – those who are very process driven and those who rely on their judgement. If you have a team made up of the first sort, decisions are going to be pretty easy because all you have to do is follow the process. In a team made up the second type of person decisions will be based on judgement and gut feel; but your colleagues have great judgement – they’ve had to develop it over the years, because, frankly, they’re a bit loose on the process front.

So who would you prefer to work with: the sterile but safe procedure follower or the under-pressure independent thinker? Before you decide, let’s think about Six Nations international rugby – my absolute favourite televised sport.

Rugby is basically a muddy combination of athletics and wrestling, but with a ball. Before it was played professionally, the rules were pretty informal, but once people started to make a living playing it, the rules had to be written down. What was an organically grown mess of expectations, norms and behaviours had to be codified into a long list of rules. Despite the extraordinary athleticism and courage of the players and the unbelievable intensity of the play, the rules have deeply affected the game in two ways their authors would not have anticipated.

First, so many rules had to be written that pretty much nobody understands them now. There are a few players and referees with an almost scholarly devotion to the laws of the scrum, but few officials or players – and almost certainly no members of the viewing public – really understand it. Its codification has become so complex that clarity around acceptable behaviour on the pitch has become lost.

Second, it damages players’ ability to make judgments, adapt to changing situations and use new information. The Scotland-England game a few weeks ago was played in a tempest and the wind made kicks unpredictable. This didn’t stop Heinz, England’s scrum-half, trying every time he could to kick the ball away – it didn’t work the first time, and it still wasn’t working by the fifth time, but he kept doing it. He was like a robot with the programme: if situation X then action Y. Repeat. Perhaps the freedom to adjust the process to meet the new information he had about the weather and success of previous attempts would have made for a better outcome.

For all its strangeness as a sport, I love international rugby and wouldn’t want it to be any different, but I do feel the question of over-codification poses questions for organisations. How do we draw the right balance between too much process and too little? How do we make the distinction between people whose judgement we trust and those we would prefer to just follow process? How can people grow and thrive without exercising their own judgement?

If I had to choose between joining a very process driven team or a team of independent thinkers, I’d go for the latter, despite the risks. For a start, it’s much more fulfilling but secondly, any job that can be codified into an automated process is going to be at risk of automation pretty soon. If your job can be codified, sooner or later somebody’s going to replace you with a robot.

Can you imagine what robot rugby would be like to watch? It’s not a situation that is likely to occur anytime soon, thankfully! But let’s make sure we celebrate the human elements that make the essential processes work.

By Jonathan Berry, European Practice Director at Expressworks

Half of employers not geared up for remote ‘smart’ working, amid coronavirus fears

48% of businesses in the UK are not in any way set-up to be able to accommodate workers who may need to self-isolate – should they display any symptoms of a cold or flu.

What’s more, a large proportion of employers are not taking ‘reasonable steps’ to prepare staff to work from home. Top reasons stopping UK employers implementing a remote working policy include:

  • 60% fear employees may abuse the policy
  • 45% state that it would be difficult to supervise employees
  • 41% claim remote working makes it difficult to track staff performance and productivity.

The findings come from a recent whitepaper from global recruiter Robert Walters – A Smart Workplace for the Workforce of the Future.

Whilst flexi-hours (56%) and remote-working capabilities (25%) are some of the top valued perks by UK employees, it appears that these benefits are typically reserved for those in senior positions – with 65% at senior management/board level being able to benefit from flexible working arrangements, compared with just 34% of junior staff.

Chris Hickey, UK CEO at Robert Walters, comments: “Advances in technology have been changing the way companies and employees work for some years now. With teams more dispersed and covering more time zones, working with others via phone, virtual meetings and video is slowly becoming the norm.

“The business case for smart working is clear; adopting a digital workplace helps to streamline operations, enhance speed of communication, and drastically improve access to information in a much more effective way.

“Flexible working arrangements are no longer considered just a perk for employees; they are a crucial business strategy to help encourage workforce diversity, attract talent and increase employee satisfaction and productivity.”

“What COVID-19 has highlighted to many UK companies is despite companies having ‘all of the gear,’ we are essentially a while away from being able to ‘push the button’ on remote working.

“Work needs to be done to build trust amongst employers and employees, as well as ironing out clear working practices and guidelines for those working remotely. As more Millennials and Gen Z professionals enter our workforce, we can expect the pressure to mount for companies to increase their flexible working practices to be able to accommodate a generation who are more in tune with their wellbeing and health.”

Top reasons employers adopt smart-working practices:

  • 72% – to improve workflow and overall staff productivity
  • 58% – to strengthen collaboration between staff and improve communication
  • 54% – digital transformation is a global trend
  • 22% – to track results & streamline decision-making
  • 17% – to attract and retain talent

How professionals feel about smart working:

  • 85% – productivity is enhanced
  • 80% – feel motivated to work on a tech-savvy company
  • 78% – coordination between departments is enhanced
  • 42% – work-life balance is hindered
  • 22% – fear workplace technologies will replace jobs
  • 11% – difficult to learn and apply new technologies

SmartSearch rises in FT list of fast-growing European firms

Yorkshire-based anti-money-laundering (AML) firm SmartSearch has moved up more than 300 places in the Financial Times’ annual list of the fastest-growing European companies.

The FT 1000 lists the European companies that have achieved the highest growth rate over 2015–2018. SmartSearch’s placing at 596 compares with its 917th position in last year’s list, on the back of revenue growth of 281% across the period.

SmartSearch is also one of the top 20 fastest-growing fintech firms.

According to the FT, competition was even tougher at the top this year, with companies requiring a minimum growth rate of 38.4% per year to make the list, compared to 37.7% last year.

SmartSearch’s annualised growth rate over the period was 56.2% placing the firm in an elite group that have more than trebled their revenue over the three-year period.

James Dobson, marketing director at SmartSearch said: “This is an immense achievement for SmartSearch and all our dedicated staff. When you see a household name like JustEat on the list and then realise that you are growing faster than them, you know you must be doing something right.

“We have achieved this result through a best-in-class product but also through our commitment to outstanding customer service. We have a 98% client retention rate which has provided a firm basis for the strong growth we have experienced in recent years.

“We expect to continue rising up the list in the future too, as we have continued to achieve significant increases in business from new and existing clients, and have begun the expansion of our operation into the North American market.”

The full FT 1000 list can be found at: https://www.ft.com/reports/europes-fastest-growing-companies