Freeth Cartwright remains optimistic about debt levels

Top 100 firm Freeth Cartwright has a “reasonable expectation” that it will continue as a going concern despite being heavily reliant on overdraft facilities to meet its working capital needs.

The firm’s annual LLP accounts reveal the amount of loans and overdrafts with LloydsTSB rose from £7.1m in 2008-09 to £7.5m in the 2009-10 financial year. The total amount due to creditors in the next year stands at £11.2m.

The amount owed to the firm by trade debtors has risen from £8.9m to £10.1m. A number of those debtors are in the construction and property industries, which account for 38 per cent of overall turnover.

The accounts also reveal the extent of staff cuts over the past financial year, down from 422 to 339, and staff costs slashed from £12.5m to £9.9m. Total fee income was down by 2.8 per cent to £31.6m but operating profit rose 26 per cent to £11.5m, and overall operating costs were reduced from £23.4m to £20.1m.

A statement included in the accounts said: “The LLP meets its day-to-day working capital requirements through overdraft and practice management facilities which have been renewed until 31 July 2011. The forecasts and projections of the business, taking account of reasonably foreseeable changes in trading performance, indicate that we should be able to operate comfortably within the level of our facilities.”

Freeth Cartwright chief executive Peter Smith said: “We’re not concerned at all about our position. These are a static set of figures and aren’t reflective of the overall position – a number of businesses use overdraft facilities, and we have more than sufficient headroom. We do a lot of billing at our year-end, so our borrowings come down dramatically.”