The chief executive of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum has written an open letter (see below) to North East businesses, urging them to treat one another with consideration during the current coronavirus crisis.

With some members of the Forum reporting that invoices are going unpaid, the letter – also signed by its chairman James Robson MBE – says it is important now, more than ever, that the strong relationships established over many years within the North East supply chain are not allowed to disintegrate.

Mr Lamb writes: “Supply chain companies play an important role in the region’s economy and we urge businesses, both large and small, to treat each other with consideration in these challenging times.

“It is vital that companies continue to communicate, adapt whenever necessary, and honour their commitments. Only in this way can long-term partnerships forged over many years survive and emerge stronger and more resilient.

“North East entrepreneurs and business leaders must unite to ensure we work together to get through this. Most of all businesses must communicate to see how they can support each other.

“Before an invoice goes unpaid, perhaps the terms can be renegotiated to ensure a proportion of the sum is released. Alternatively, it may be that payment can be exchanged for the secondment of staff or provision of alternative goods or services.”

With the most recent statistics suggesting that three quarters of SMEs are already waiting a month or longer beyond agreed terms, the effect of one late payment can quickly have a ripple effect throughout the supply chain.

In the letter, Mr Lamb urged businesses to collaborate to find acceptable and viable solutions in this unprecedented situation.

He added: “The North East has developed a strong reputation for its innovation, collaborative spirit and ‘can-do’ attitude. We all need to work together in the coming months if we are to continue strengthening the long-term partnerships that make this region such a success story.”

Open letter from the Entrepreneurs’ Forum

Despite the ongoing uncertainty of COVID-19 and its impact long-term on businesses across the region, it is important that now, more than ever, strong relationships built over many years within the North East supply chain do not disintegrate.

Supply chain companies play an important role in the region’s economy and we urge businesses, both large and small, to treat each other with consideration in these challenging times.

It is vital that companies continue to communicate, adapt whenever necessary and honour their commitments. Only in this way can long-term partnerships survive and emerge stronger and more resilient.

North East entrepreneurs and business leaders must unite to ensure we work together to get through this.

Some of our members have expressed concerns over unpaid invoice payments which is the motivation behind this letter. Although business leaders are having to navigate through difficult times, it’s important to remember there are alternative options.

Before an invoice goes unpaid, perhaps the terms can be renegotiated to ensure a proportion of the sum is released. Alternatively, it may be that payment can be exchanged for the secondment of staff or provision of alternative services or goods.

The North East has a strong reputation for its innovation, collaborative spirit and ‘can-do’ attitude. We must work together in the coming months if we are to continue strengthening the long-term partnerships that make the region such a success story.

Jonathan Lamb, chief executive,

James Robson MBE, chairman

The Entrepreneurs’ Forum

Gateshead