More company insolvency beckons

The number of companies on the brink of formal insolvency increased sharply in the third quarter compared with a year earlier, according to research by Begbies Traynor, the corporate restructuring group.

Between July and September, 6,946 companies faced critical financial difficulties, an increase of almost 20 per cent from the same period in 2004.

However, the number of companies experiencing significant but not yet critical problems fell 4 per cent to 80,947.

Lloyds TSB small business expansion

Lloyds TSB is adding a dedicated small business team to another 90 of its branches, following its strategy of moving the service to local high street banks and giving a more personalised service.

at Lloyds TSB have their own business manager and the bank is adding 300 of these employees to staff the expanded service.

The expansion is being rolled out nationwide and will bring the number of branches with dedicated teams to 500.

Former governor backs mentoring

Lord George, the former governor of the Bank of England, and Sir John Banham, ex-chairman of Whitbread, are joining a panel of business experts for a mentoring competition in London on November 22.

Cornwall Pure Business, which seeks to attract inward investment to the county, is sponsoring the event, aimed at companies that are either in the conception stage or have been trading for less than a year. Application forms are available at www. and the best five entrants will be get advice from the panel.

Separately, Evoke, the high-growth business start-up service from Business Link Devon and Cornwall, is offering up to £5,000 towards the cost of specialist business support for companies that start or relocate to the south-west.

Shell seeks base for eager students

The Shell Technology Enterprise Programme, which runs an annual award to find the most enterprising student, is looking for small- and medium-sized enterprises to employ the eager candidates for next year’s contest.

The award recognises the student that made the most difference to an SME’s operations during an eight-week period over the university summer holidays.

Sponsor companies will be expected to pay their STEP employee about £180 a week.

Winners of this year’s regional awards included Ali Zaidi, a web development student at Teesside University, who created an online search engine optimised directory system for Visualsoft, a Middlesbrough-based internet company.

The product has already generated £60,000 in sales with the potential to add another £250,000 to turnover, according to Visualsoft. Further details at

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