The average time from invoice to payment in the six months to 30th June 2020 was just 26 days for Beard – down from 27 days in the preceding six months, the company says.
Beard also improved payments made within the agreed terms – up from 85% in the second half of 2019 to 89% in the first six months of this year.
Beard says that this combination places it at the leading edge of prompt payment within the construction sector.
According to data collated by Build UK, only Mace and Vinci among major contractors can match Beard’s 26-day average to pay invoices , but they manage 74% and 85% of invoices paid within the agreed terms, rather than Beard’s 89%.
Some contractors have average payment times more than twice as long as Beard’s, and pay more than half of all invoices late.
Build UK reveals Multiplex as a particularly poor performer in this regard – averaging 49 days to pay and just 57% paid within the agreed terms. Seddon averages 48 days but pays 87% of invoices within agreed terms.
Neither matches the Prompt Payment Code commitment to pay 95% of invoices within 60 days, but then few do – Willmott Dixon (99%) Wates (96%), Mace (96%), Osborne (65%) and are among the honourable exceptions. Beard’s report shows that it paid 97% of invoices within 60 days in the first half of 2020.
Finance director Fraser Johns said: “When I joined Beard last year, it was made clear to me the emphasis the firm places on prompt payment. This is not just a set of numbers: for our suppliers, this is their livelihoods, and they depend on contractors paying in full and on time. The Covid-19 pandemic has made this all the more important.
“Many firms are struggling and we have all been forced to make difficult decisions over the last few months. It has been widely reported that some firms have reacted by delaying or withholding payments to suppliers.
“Beard regards that as wholly unacceptable. It is unethical – and it is also bad business. Firms that treat their suppliers well now will be much better placed to bounce back from the current situation as the market recovers.
“For Beard, meeting financial commitments to our suppliers is not an optional extra or a ‘nice to have’: it is integral to what we do and who we are as a firm. We are pleased with these numbers, but we will continue to strive to do even better in future.”