Late Payment – Rentokil ‘smokescreen’ attacked

Rentokil Initial’s payment terms have come under further fire after small suppliers said the company had not withdrawn its controversial November circular as it had previously claimed.

In a survey released this week, 78% of the membership of the Forum of Private Business demanded the resignation of Rentokil chief executive Sir Clive Thompson for issuing the circular which offered suppliers 60-day payment terms.

The Late Payment Act says that companies face penalties if they take more than 30 days to pay their bills.

FPB head of policy Nick Goulding said Rentokil had still not written to suppliers three months after the issue first arose despite telling both the Department of Trade and Industry and the Federation of Small Business that it had withdrawn the circular.

Goulding said: ‘Rentokil says it has withdrawn the circular but it has not written to suppliers and all we are getting is a smokescreen.’

He added that the revised terms still did not comply with the Late Payment Act as they did not match the criteria to qualify as an ‘alternative remedy’ and had been imposed to the detriment of suppliers.

With Rentokil facing no punitive action for its circular, the rival Federation of Small Businesses said ‘naming and shaming’ would now be the only option.

‘We will be publishing a league table at the end of the month featuring 3,000 companies and their payment terms.

It will be published annually as we believe the Act only has teeth in the final instance of taking a company to court.’

Rentokil remained on the defensive. Corporate affairs director Charles Grimaldi said the company and its subsidiaries ‘fully comply … in the letter and the spirit’ of the Act’.

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