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“I love the recession”

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He puts this dramatic increase down to the widespread economic uncertainties facing businesses throughout the US and Europe. “Activity has been significantly higher since the banking crisis began to unfold in August,” says Barker, who set up the London-based firm in 2005 and now pulls in sales of £500k from 150 countries.

“More companies are liquidating surplus assets and, with output down, manufacturing and production assets are often the first to go. It’s easier to lose a row of machines than a row of employees.”

Barker says more than 87,000 pieces of equipment are now available for sale – a record for the online marketplace. “The majority of the equipment has been submitted by small and medium-sized companies, who appear to be the hardest hit. What started as a steady trickle quickly became a flood and there is no obvious sign of it stopping.”

The used-machinery market is a useful bell-weather for the health of the manufacturing sector. Growth in the market reflects an increase in asset disposals – a frequent symptom of business failure – and can act as an early warning signal of recession.

But will Barker be able to flog the increased volume of used machinery? He’s upbeat. “As well as domestic buyers looking to reduce capital equipment costs, the demand for machinery from developing countries continues to be strong. China and India in particular acquire large amounts of used manufacturing assets and demand for construction equipment is as high as ever in the Middle East”.

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