Good Business Pays and Company Watch partner to provide unique insights on payment performance

Good Business Pays & Company Watch Partnership graphic

Today, campaigning group Good Business Pays and financial risk solutions provider Company Watch announce a new partnership to bring greater insight in the battle to bring an end to slow and late payment of supplier invoices.

The partnership came about after the leaders of the two companies, Terry Corby, CEO of Good Business Pays and Craig Evans, CEO of Company Watch, found they shared an instinct that the poor payment practices of a company were often a sign of deeper financial problems. Both had arrived at the same conclusion through the different insights discovered at each of their organisations. As a result, they decided to make both their insights available for anyone to see.

Who is Good Business Pays and what did they discover?

Good Business Pays was founded in 2021 as a non-profit company dedicated to bringing an end to slow and late payment to small businesses. They mine data collected by the UK Department of Business & Trade, which dictates that large companies must report their payment performance to the UK Government every six months. Since their formation, Good Business Pays have constantly analysed and published payment data for the 6,000 or so largest UK companies that report their practices. Great progress has been made with many large companies making big improvements to payment practices and a coalition of support for bringing an end to late payment has been built across all the main business organisations and political parties. 

Good Business Pays is constantly researching different ways to understand payment culture. In 2023, they concluded that it might be too easy to assume that a late or slow paying company was in financial trouble, and so decided to carry out some research (Who Cares?) into large companies that had gone into administration and study their payment performance in the years leading up to their downfall. The results were fascinating. Good Business Pays looked in detail at almost all the high-profile business failures since 2017 and found there was a clear pattern of poor payment practices at those companies who then went into liquidation. Companies studied included: Credit Suisse; Arcadia Group; Dorothy Perkins; Top Shop Top Man; Selfridge; Wallis; Evans Retail; Burton Trading; Debenhams; McColl’s Retail Group; Joules; Midas Construction; Flybe; Tuffnells Parcel Service; and Lloyds Pharmacy.

At all these companies we saw the following pattern:

  • Payment times at the failing companies were much worse than their better performing competitors.
  • Slow payment was part of their culture and was consistent over a long period of time.
  • We saw a worsening of payment practices tracked to increased risks in their business 

The report proved that payment practices are relevant and linked to the broader financial performance of a company. However, company payment performance is rarely seen or know by their board members, investors or auditor. In the view of Good Business Pays, this meant important financial information was invisible to those responsible for good financial governance. Effectively, it seems as if a warning light that should be on the corporate financial dashboard is missing. 

Who is Company Watch and what did they discover?

Company Watch was founded in 1998 to provide a definitive way to score financial accounts in order to manage credit risk. They are now on a mission to revolutionise the traditional approach to commercial credit scoring in the age of open (and big) data. 

Company Watch led the disruption of the credit risk management market in the 2000s. They are positioned to be industry leaders, applying cutting-edge machine learning techniques to new, alternative data sources to deliver unprecedented accuracy for their clients.

In their industry, model introspection and scoring transparency is not just important for their clients’ peace of mind, but is fast becoming a regulatory necessity, leading Company Watch to explore techniques that further enhance their commitment to transparency.

Company Watch built their ground-breaking H-Score® tool, which has predicted around 90% of UK public insolvencies in advance and is used widely across banking, insurance and corporate credit functions. Company Watch collect and analyse large amounts of financial performance data about all UK companies and have long sensed that payment practices were an overlooked element of financial reporting data, that has great relevance to a company’s broader financial performance and its overall financial health.

How big is the problem?

Over the past twelve months, Good Business Pays and Company Watch have worked together to find the best way to bring together the payment performance data published by Good Business Pays and the financial health risk data published by Company Watch into one view. But it was important to understand the size of the problem across a broader number of companies than just those studied in the Who Cares? report.

To further test the hypotheses that poor payment practices are link to financial risk, we decided to look at all companies who are currently scoring as ‘High Risk’ by Company Watch. We also focused on three industry sectors that have a reputation for poor payment practices: Food & Hospitality; Retail & Wholesale; and Construction. After mapping the High-Risk companies in the three sectors, Good Business Pays looked at the payment performance of each company. The results were startling, demonstrating a clear and similar pattern. We observed worrying payment practices in more than half of the High-Risk companies in every sector we studied. A worrying payment practice was defined as either paying more than a third of their invoices later than agreed terms, or where companies do not even file payment practices reports at all (a law-breaking act in itself, but also a sign of hidden practices and problems).

The details of our findings are as follows:

Food & Hospitality

Company Watch lists 76 large food and hospitality companies in its High-Risk category. We found payment problems in 45 of them, with 17 companies paying more than 30% of invoices later than agreed terms and 28 companies not reporting at all.

Retail & Wholesale

Company Watch lists 209 large retail and wholesale companies in its High-Risk category. We found payment problems in 142 of them, with 72 companies paying more than 30% of invoices later than agreed terms and 70 companies not reporting at all.


Company Watch lists 90 large construction companies in its High-Risk category. We found payment problems in 48 of them, with 19 companies paying more than 30% of invoices later than agreed terms and 29 companies not reporting at all.

In total, of 375 companies rated as High Risk by Company Watch, 108 are paying more than 30% of the invoices late and 127 are not reporting their payment statistics at all. Experience shows those companies not reporting at all are unlikely to have a positive record on payment culture, so don’t bother to report.

Good Business Pays & Company Watch Partnership: Making New Insights Available 

Bringing together Government data on company payment performance and corporate financial risk ratings into one place has never been done before. Many people have sensed there is a link between the two, but the research by Good Business Pays and Company Watch has proved the link. This is why the two organisations have decided to make this information available, free to use, easy to access and understand.

Since 2021, Good Business Pays has led the charge to make large company payment performance transparent, by publishing it for free on their website ( By entering the name of the company you are interested in, as long at the company is within the Government reporting scheme, users are provided with a dashboard that sets out that company’s latest payment performance record. From March 2024, users will also see the latest Company Watch risk scores alongside the payment performance data. New information provided will include the current risk level, showing the risk trend for the past few years, along with a suggested credit limit and contract limit for the company based on Company Watch analysis.

Bringing together these two sets of data into a single view provides a powerful insight into each of the 6000 or so largest companies in the UK. It will alert users to the risks and practices of every one of these companies and we hope will allow users to make better informed decisions about if and how to work with the company in question. 

We see many practical uses for these joint insights

  • Business leaders considering the company as a supplier or customer
  • Procurement leaders checking the resilience of their supply chain 
  • Investors interested in the potential operation and financial risks within a company
  • Banks and financial institutions checking the financial and operational risks within a company
  • M&A, Consultants and other professional advisors looking to understand how a company operates 
  • Accountants interested in payment performance and financial implications
  • Leaders interested in company culture insight

To use the new insights, just search for the company payment record you require at If the company reports, you will find our unique insights into their payment performance and financial risk profile on one page.

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