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Dear Credit Insurance Colleague
Happy New Year and welcome to issue 16 of Credit Insurance News Digest: 17 December 2012 - 15 January 2013 brought to you by Credit Insurance News (www.creditinsurancenews.co.uk).
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Index




Credit Insurance News
Changes to the risk and credit insurance landscape. Treasurytoday.com has published an article, 'Dealing with the living dead', which examines the issue of 'zombie' companies and recent changes that increased risk have made to the credit insurance landscape. Mike Feldwick, Head of UK and Ireland for Tinubu Square, is quoted at length, and advises that he has seen a shift in the credit insurance landscape - from whole turnover credit insurance to high-end catastrophe (or XoL) products - with UK suppliers now more frequently insisting on ROT clauses in contracts with buyers. Mr. Feldwick also stresses that while trade with a suspected zombie company is feasible, it requires a strong focus on credit management, with the right systems and processes in place to make use of detailed intelligence on the factors that could affect their ability to pay. Dealing with zombie companies – or any company – is a judgement call, he says, “but that call is better made when you‘ve got supporting information.” To view the article on treasurytoday go to http://treasurytoday.com/2013/01/dealing-with-the-living-dead.

German companies are taking more interest in credit insurance. Commercial Risk Europe has published an article, 'Demand for credit cover on the rise again in Germany', (3 January), in which Thomas Krings, management board member Euler Hermes in Germany, advises that as the next downturn in the economy approaches, German companies are taking a greater interest in the question of commercial credit insurance again. "We see healthy demand at the moment in the market, which is based strongly on industries with large exports," said Mr Krings in an interview with Commercial Risk Europe just before year-end. For 2013, Mr Krings said that he expects a rise of about 4% to €358 billion in trade volumes covered. To view the article on Commercial Risk Europe's website go to http://www.commercialriskeurope.com/cre/1915/56/Demand-for-credit-cover-on-the-rise-again-in-Germany/.

Atradius reports soaring food and drink claims. The Grocer has published an article, 'Credit insurance claims soar for food and drink firms says Atradius', (5 January) which advises that food and drink accounted for 20% of the claims made to Atradius last year, compared with 8.5% in 2011. The sharp increase reflects the high number of insolvencies during the year. Atradius' Senior Risk Underwriter, Darren Tilke, is quoted. To view the article on The Grocer's website go to http://www.thegrocer.co.uk/topics/credit-insurance-claims-soar-for-food-and-drink-firms/235240.article.

Equinox Global boosts capacity. Equinox Global Limited has announced that it has secured additional capacity through Jubilee Syndicate 5820 (Jubilee) at Lloyd’s - increasing its automatic capacity from $30 million to $35 million. Mike Holley, Chief Executive Officer of Equinox Global, commented: “Jubilee brings a greater diversity to our panel and reinforces our relationship with Lloyd’s. Working with Jubilee, along with the rest of our carriers, means that we are even better positioned to meet all our client’s trade credit needs.” To view Equinox Global's press release go to http://www.equinoxglobal.com/equinox_global_announces_new_partnership_with_Jubilee.

Atradius finds that a debt collection agency's success rate now determines whether it is selected by clients. Atradius has published its latest Global Collections Review and has noted a new trend amongst businesses when selecting a debt collections agency; that is, that companies now put more attention on agencies’ success rates and less emphasis on price. Atradius also reported that overall 30% respondents worldwide have used a debt collection agency in the last 12 months, with companies interviewed in the Asia Pacific region more inclined to used debt collection agencies than respondents in the Americas and Europe. In Europe, Dutch companies showed the highest use of debt collection agencies and Chinese companies displayed the highest use in the rest of the world. To view Atradius' detailed report go to http://www.atradiuscollections.com/gcr.html.

Hannover Re Ready to Give Up Trade-Credit Market Share. Bloomberg has published an article, 'Hannover Re Ready to Give Up Trade-Credit Market Share', (18 December) which advises that Hannover Re, the world’s fourth-biggest reinsurer, said it is prepared to give up trade-credit and surety business next year as claims costs rise and industry capacity increases. “The economic outlook for Europe is far from good with half of the region in trouble; that will be felt in our market,” Jan Mueller, head of the Hanover, Germany-based company’s trade-credit and surety reinsurance unit, said in an interview. “If profitability requirements over the cycle are not being met we are also ready to give up business.” To view the full article on Bloomberg.com go to http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-18/hannover-re-ready-to-give-up-trade-credit-market-share.html.

Formal launch of Nexus CIFS: Nexus Underwriting Management Limited has announced the launch of its new Lloyd’s MGA, Nexus CIFS Limited. The new agency will focus primarily on Trade Credit Indemnity business and is a result of the completion of the trade sale of the Novae Syndicates’ Credit Indemnity and Financial Services (CIFS) business to Nexus. The agency will be led by existing CIFS Management, being Bob Lilley, Sue Morley and Neil Payton. In addition, 11 other CIFS underwriters and assistants have transferred to Nexus CIFS. To view CIFS' announcement go to http://creditindemnity.com/cifs-news/all/new-lloyds-managing-general-agency-formed-by-nexus-group-to-underwrite-trade-credit-indemnity.
Note: In addition, in a separate announcement CIFS advised that they will remain in their current office, at 71 Fenchurch Street, for now and will be moving to a new office close by at the beginning of February. New company details, address and phone numbers will be published soon. For more information go to http://creditindemnity.com/cifs-news/all/nexus-cifs.

Atradius warns that supermarkets are buffering consumers from the rising costs of food and drink. Retail Times has published an article, 'Supermarket food price buffers are unsustainable, warns trade credit insurer', (11 January) which advises that harvests and increased farming costs have created a turbulent period for the food and drink sector. However, in a bid to protect market share, supermarkets continue to resist necessary price increases which would bring much needed relief to the supply chain. Atradius, whose exposures on food and agriculture currently total around 15% of its overall UK cover, believes this places the sector in a precarious position and more needs to be done to safeguard margins in the sector. To view Retail Times' full article go to http://retailtimes.co.uk/supermarket-food-price-buffers-are-unsustainable-warns-trade-credit-insurer/.

Gimv acquires a 49% stake in Delcredere / Ducroire. Office National du Ducroire/Nationale Delcrederedienst (ONDD), the Belgian public credit insurer, and the listed investment company Gimv have announced that they have reached an agreement whereby the Gimv-XL fund has paid €36 million for a 49% interest in Delcredere NV/Ducroire SA by acquiring shares owned by ONDD. To view Gimv's full press release go to http://www.gimv.com/view/en/397682-+News+.html?news=13506605.

Atradius comment on BRC's latest analysis that retail sales in December 2012 rose by just 0.3% on last year. Mike Thomas, special risk manager at Atradius, said: “Unfortunately, these figures show a generally underwhelming picture that has rounded off an entirely sluggish retail year. Despite this disappointing news, most retailers were prepared for the lacklustre outturn and stocked accordingly, meaning that there has been less stock overhang than we’ve seen in recent years.What is particularly interesting is the surge of online sales in December, which can be linked to the success we’ve seen in the technology industry during the last few years and the rise of tablet computing. The explosion of tablet devices is likely to fuel a further rise in online sales."

Tinubu Square opens news offices in Asia. Tinubu Square has announced that it has expanded its international presence by opening new offices in Singapore and Mumbai. Jerome Peze, Tinubu Square's founder and CEO, who has now relocated to Singapore, commented: "With Western economies flat or contracting, Asia represents a critical growth market, but also a new risk exposure. By delivering on the ground support and intelligence, we are bringing a new visibility and proven credit management tools to insurers and companies with operations in the region." To view Tinubu Square's news release go to http://www.tinubu.com/credit-risk-solutions/about-tinubu,news.php.

Please note: A subscription to Insurance Day and/or Drapers is required to view the following articles:
Drapers has published an article, '2013 to be "another tough year", experts warn', (31 December) in which David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, comments that: “Austerity Britain is here to stay and 2013 will feel remarkably like 2012," and advises that: “an open dialogue between retailer, bank and credit insurer will be vital to survival.” To view the full article on Draper's website go to http://www.drapersonline.com/news/2013-to-be-another-tough-year-experts-warn/5044326.article. (Subscription required).

Insurance Day has published an article, 'Trade credit: growth opportunities in 2013', which advises that a number of  new trade credit markets are emerging and providing opportunities. Markets expected to grow include Brazil, China, India, Vietnam, Burma, Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, Russia and Ukraine. In addition, the article reports that demand is growing for political risk to be included in short-term credit insurance contracts. To view the full article go to https://www.insuranceday.com/specialty/trade-credit-growth-opportunities-in-2013.htm?origin=internalSearch.

Insurance Day has published an article, 'Trade credit: risk outlook: further deterioration expected in 2013', which advises that the trade credit market enters 2013 with a deteriorating risk outlook, while increasing competition is keeping market conditions soft. Robert Nijhout, executive director of ICISA told Insurance Day that policy conditions will tighten in the year head to reflect the worsening risk environment. To view the full article go to https://www.insuranceday.com/losses/trade-credit-risk-outlook-further-deterioration-expected-in-2013.htm?origin=internalSearch.




Credit Insurers: New Industry Reports
Coface launches a new series of quarterly reports which focus on business sectors in Asia, North America and the EU. In the first report Coface economists revealed that the most resilient sectors globally were pharmaceuticals, energy and transportation, and that construction, metallurgy and retail were fragile/high credit risk. In addition, the agro-food, automobiles and electronics sectors were considered increasingly vulnerable and in need of continued monitoring. Grant Williams, Risk Underwriting Director at Coface UK commented: “While UK manufacturers have already seen a reduction in sales to the Eurozone, it is more important for them to know the prospects for their particular market in other regions so they don’t jump from the frying pan to the fire. For example, Coface currently considers mechanical engineering to be a higher risk in Asia than in Europe or North America because companies in this region have offered favourable payment terms and are more vulnerable to bad debt.” To view the full report go to http://www.coface.com/CofacePortal/COM_en_EN/pages/home/Who_we_are/News?news=121212.

Entering the sixth year of the economic crisis, Euler Hermes reports a weak global outlook. Euler Hermes has published its latest Economic Outlook which advises that although the outlook for 2013 is far from cataclysmic, it nevertheless remains very weak. The Outlook also includes an examination of global growth in 2012 with projections for 2013 - with an additional focus on the eurozone, and an examination of the the U.S, Canadian and Brazilian economies - all of which are given a low country risk level rating. In the UK, economic growth is predicted to resume in 2013. To download a copy of the Outlook, go to http://www.eulerhermes.co.uk/en/economic-outlook/economic-outlook.html.

Coface's Diagnosis: the Swiss economy is bending but has not given away. Coface’s latest  Panorama report highlights the relative strengths of Switzerland - currently the 11th largest export market for UK businesses in terms of value. These include: the low risk of late payment and bad debt, the strong Swiss Franc, the country’s political stability and its sound management of public finances, a flexible labour market and an attractive tax system. The Panorama also forecasts slight growth of 1.2% in 2013, making it a tempting prospect for UK businesses, particularly in the service sector. To view the report go to http://www.coface.com/CofacePortal/COM_en_EN/pages/home/Publications/country-panorama/Switzerland.

Coface warns that Global steel production will fall over the next 12 months. Coface has published a new report which focuses on China and advises that Global steel production will fall over the next 12 months because of current overcapacity and the slowdown in the Chinese economy. Although nearly 1.5 billion tonnes of steel was produced in the last 12 months, an increase of 4.2% on 2011, Coface’s economists predict a year of retrenchment in 2013, particularly in China where demand is falling. In the UK, steel producers are vulnerable because of the downturn in the automotive and construction industries in the Eurozone, while margins are being squeezed by cheaper Chinese steel flooding the market. To view Coface's full press release go to http://www.cofaceuk.com/CofacePortal/UK/en_EN/pages/home/who-we-are/news?news=130104.

Atradius' latest country report on Portugal. Atradius has published its latest country report on Portugal which predicts that GDP will contract again in 2013 (-1.9%) as lack of domestic demand and weaker exports impact the economy. However the decreasing current account deficit is positive news, as is Atradius' prediction that corporate insolvencies (5% anticipated in 2012) are predicted to level off in 2013. To view the full report go to http://www.atradius.co.uk/creditmanagementknowledge/publications/latestreleases.html.




Industry Events
Global economy trends in one day. Coface has announced that its next Country Risk Conference, 'Global economy trends in one day', will be held on Tuesday 22 January 2013 at the CNIT Paris – La Défense. The agenda for the day will include discussions and debate on: 'Globalisation under stress,' 'Eurozone: How can it grow? How can it last?,' 'Are the emerging middle classes the key to success?' and 'United States: a declining power? For more information and to register online go to http://www.risque-pays.coface.fr/en/.

ICM British Credit Awards 2013. ICM has announced that the ICM British Credit Awards for 2013 are to be held at the Hilton Park Lane Hotel, London on 6 February 2013. The awards categories cover all the different aspects of credit from consumer and commercial lending to credit insurance, use of technology and business information, and include: Credit Insurer of the Year, Commercial Finance Provider of the Year, Credit Information Provider of the Year, Credit Professional of the Year. Finalists include Credit Indemnity and Financial Services (CIFS) and Euler Hermes in the 'Credit Insurer of the Year' category and CoCredo and Experian in the 'Credit Information Provider of the Year' category. For more information go to http://www.icmbritishcreditawards.com/static/home.

23rd Insuring Export Credit & Political Risk Annual Global Convention. The 23rd Insuring Export Credit & Political Risk Annual Global Convention takes place on the 27-28th of February at the Hilton London Tower Bridge Hotel. Attracting nearly 300 attendees from over 37 countries annually, this is the leading global event for ECAs, the private insurance sector and their clients. The 70+ expert speakers announced include: Richard Talboys of Willis, Susan Ross of Aon, Lukas Neckermann of Euler Hermes, Diana Smallridge of International Financial Consulting, Jane Johnson of Atradius, Neil Ross of AIG and Robert Nijhout of ICISA. Register by 25th January to benefit for an early registration discount of up to £600. Readers of Credit Insurance News Digest can also quote code FKW52464CNINL for a further 10% reduction. To view the latest agenda or to register online, please visit: http://www.iiribcfinance.com/FKW52464CNINL.




Career Opportunities and New Appointments
Career Opportunities
Underwriter, African Trade Insurance Agency. US$ 60,000 - 70,000 per annum (net of taxes) plus benefits including diplomatic privileges.
African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) has a vacancy for an underwriter who will be responsible for developing and implementing solutions for the protection of companies, banks and other business interests that have transactions exposed to credit or political risks. The candidate must have experience of Political or Trade/Credit Risk insurance, and related products (whole turnover, trade credit, surety bonds, insurance of commercial loans, single obligor insurance and trade finance), Invoice Discounting and Factoring, Credit Management, etc, with an advanced university degree in insurance, banking, law, economics, business administration, or related area plus five years post-qualifying experience, or a first degree plus eight years post-qualifying experience. The successful candidate will be based in Nairobi at ATI’s head office or one of the field offices. More details about the position can be found at www.ati-aca.org/jobs.asp. (Please quote Credit Insurance News Digest if applying).

Senior Commercial Underwriter, Trade Credit. Competitive salary and excellent benefits
QBE has a vacancy for a Senior Commercial Underwriter. The successful candidate will have a wide range of responsibilities including: achieving new business premium target across a defined region and broker-distribution channel, servicing and renewing all clients of £100k+ premium with a pro-active and enhanced service offering, building and maintaining strong relationships with all stakeholders including clients, brokers, business partners and colleagues and developing and leveraging new business opportunities via QBE’s general client / broker relationships. To view QBE's detailed job description go to www.qbeeurope.com/careers/vacancies.asp. For more information and to apply please email Natalie.Chadder-Manchego@uk.qbe.com. (Please quote Credit Insurance News Digest if applying).

Credit Insurance Opportunities – Nationwide.
The Trade Credit Team at the specialist general insurance recruitment agency, Aston Charles, have been retained by a number of brokers who are seeking to bolster their Trade Credit and Political Risk Divisions through the acquisition of high calibre individuals. Clients include global broking houses controlling high value international credit portfolios, specialist operators working within specific niches, and well respected regional intermediaries with a firm commitment to the credit insurance industry. Roles are based across the UK, and include Apprentice, Credit Broker/ Account Handler, Development Executive positions.  For more information, please contact Richard Jones on 0845 8388 490 or richardjones@astoncharles.co.uk. (Please quote Credit Insurance News Digest if applying).

Broker, Political and Credit Risks, City of London.
An exciting opportunity for a bright and dynamic individual with at least six months of successful experience in a commercial result-driven environment ideally in a financial institution (bank, insurance firm, brokerage) and a strong understanding of finance and communication skills. The position is to develop new clients and support existing ones both as a producing and placing broker within our fast-growing division dedicated to political and credit risks. For more information please contact the head of the division Vladimir Shipov by emailing your CV and cover letter to info@politicalandcreditrisks.com. (Please quote Credit Insurance News Digest if applying).

New Appointments
Euler Hermes appoints Ronald van het Hof as chief executive officer of its World Agency activities. Mr. Van het Hof succeeds Nicolas Delzant, whose appointment as head of region for Euler Hermes France was announced in late 2012. Based in Paris, Mr Van het Hof will report to Wilfried Verstraete, chairman of the Euler Hermes Group. To view Euler Hermes' full press release go to http://www.eulerhermes.com/mediacenter/news/euler-hermes-appoints-ronald-van-het-hof-ceo-World-Agency-.aspx.

CIFS announces a new joiner to its Risk Underwriting team. CIFS has announced the appointment of Natalie Pelczer to its Risk Underwriting team. Natalie has particular experience of the food and agriculture sector and joins from Euler Hermes where she was Senior Risk Account Underwriter. Prior to that Natalie was a Buyer Underwriter at Atradius. To view CIFS' announcement go to http://creditindemnity.com/cifs-news/all/new-joiner-natalie-pelczer.




Business Information: Recommended Reports and Business Shorts
Zombie retailers feel the bite this winter as Austerity Britain takes hold. According to the latest research from Begbies Traynor to measure corporate distress levels among UK businesses, 'critical' financial issues are now facing almost 140 retailers – even though many are at the peak of their annual cash cycle – meaning 2013 is likely to witness a rising number of retail insolvencies, affecting not only single retail outlets but also several major national and regional retail chains. However the picture becomes bleaker still when retailers experiencing 'significant' financial distress are included with, according to the research, the level of 'significant' financial distress among UK businesses having increased by 35% to over 13,700 during the last quarter of the year. Those retailers that have experienced the highest increases in 'significant' distress include specialists in books, news and stationery (up 85%), pharmaceutical and personal care (up 80%) and alcohol (up 38%). To view the full report go to http://www.begbies-traynorgroup.com/default/news/12-12-24/zombie%E2%80%9D_retailers_feel_the_bite_this_winter_as_austerity_britain_takes_hold.aspx.

Deloitte finds that CFOs enter 2013 in a more optimistic mood than they entered 2012. Deloitte's latest CFO Survey shows that the UK’s largest businesses are entering 2013 in a more optimistic mood than they entered 2012, but continue to favour defensive strategies in a low growth environment. Ian Stewart, chief UK economist at Deloitte, commented: “Despite expectations of a weak recovery in 2013 large companies enter the New Year with a greater focus on cost control and cash flow than at any time in the last two years. . . The dominant concern of UK businesses for 2013 is the economy, just as it has been at the start of each of the last four years." To view Deloitte's news release go to http://www.deloitte.com/view/en_GB/uk/research-and-intelligence/deloitte-research-uk/the-deloitte-cfo-survey/fe24cf93020eb310VgnVCM2000003356f70aRCRD.htm. A link to the full report is also available on this webpage.

Pieces of the economic puzzle are being put together in the Europe and the US, but major challenges remain. PwC has produced a new report, 'Global economy watch - January 2013', which predicts that in 2013 world GDP in real terms is projected to be around 10% above its pre-recession peak in 2008 and around 40% above 2000 levels. China, India and Brazil will together add around one trillion dollars to the world economy in nominal terms - equivalent to the entire annual economic output of Switzerland. The US and China will remain the first and second largest economies in the world while the UK will remain sixth. To download the full report from PwCs website go to http://www.pwc.co.uk/economic-services/global-economy-watch/january-2013-summary.jhtml.

RICS reports signs that 2013 will bring some better news for the construction sector. RICS has published its latest Construction Market Survey, Q4 2012, (10 January) which predicts that the UK construction market is expected to turn a corner this year, albeit only in first gear, with chartered surveyors predicting output to increase in 2013. Last quarter, 15% more surveyors across the country reported that they expect workloads to grow over the coming twelve months but this follows what was a horrendous year for the sector. To view RICS' press release go to http://www.rics.org/uk/knowledge/news-insight/press-releases/uk-construction-to-turn-a-corner-in-2013/.

Retail sales news: A steady, but not spectacular, end to the year. Latest research from BDO has indicated that a combination of retailers focused on protecting their margins and consumers holding out for bargains has resulted in a steady but somewhat unspectacular December sales period. Figures released today from BDO’s December High Street Sales Tracker show overall like-for-like sales up 1.9% year-on-year. While not the bumper end to the year some were hoping for, retailers will be breathing a sigh of relief after recovering from floundering sales in the week before Christmas (ending 16 December) which dipped 3.7% year-on-year. Non-fashion was the strongest sector, with growth of 7.1% thanks to increased sales of Christmas ‘gifting’ items from well-established brands and department stores, and luxury items once discounting started. To view BDO's news release go to http://www.bdo.uk.com/press/bdo-hsst-high-street-sales-steady-not-spectacular-december.

Small businesses are experiencing significantly higher levels of distress compared to larger businesses. According to R3’s latest Business Distress Index 37% of small businesses are experiencing decreased profits, compared to 19% of medium-sized businesses and just 7% of large businesses. In addition, 24% are regularly using their maximum overdraft limit compared to 6% of medium-sized businesses - while no large businesses report to be doing so. In fact, across all distress signs, higher numbers of small businesses are suffering than their medium sized or larger counterparts.  To view R3's news release go to http://www.r3.org.uk/index.cfm?page=1114&element=17755&refpage=1008.

Retail administrations increase as high street woes continue. The number of retailers falling into administration in 2012 increased by 6% to 194 compared with 183 in 2011, according to research from Deloitte. Lee Manning, restructuring services partner at Deloitte, said: “These figures are a stark reminder of the difficulties which continue to face the high street. Constrained household budgets and the structural challenges facing the sector mean it is certain that we will see further distress next year. Christmas trading appears to have been reasonable, though not spectacular and not enough to prevent insolvencies in the first quarter of 2013. To view Deloitte's news release go to http://www.deloitte.com/view/en_GB/uk/services/corporate-finance/2869c3db711fb310VgnVCM3000003456f70aRCRD.htm.




Christmas on the UK High Street: Who's UP/Who's DOWN
DOWN: Jessops, the camera retailer, became the first major High Street casualty of 2013 when it went into administration last week. A poor Christmas and a loss of faith in the retailer from its suppliers resulted in the administrator's conclusion that the group was financially unviable. In consequence, Jessops has now shut all of its 187 stores, resulting in the loss of nearly 1,400 jobs - with more expected after its head office is disbanded in the coming weeks. The retailer narrowly avoided administration in 2009 after issuing a number of profit warnings.
DOWN: HMV. Following the recent announcement that it is now in administration, it looks as though  HMV may become the second big high street casualty of 2013.  Despite selling off most of its live music assets last year, in December 2012 the retailer reported an uncertain outlook, with a pre-tax loss of £37.3 million and a fall of 13.5% in total sales. Then, following poor trading over Christmas, it seems that its banks ran out of patience. Now, administrators hope that a slimmed down version of the retailer may still be viable if a potential buyer can be found, and branches of HMV will remain open for now. Overall HMV, like other recent high street casualties Jessops and Comet, was negatively impacted by the increasing numbers of consumers purchasing products online, as well as the rise in digital downloading.
DOWN: Marks and Spencer. After a leak of its Christmas recent trading figures to Sky News, Marks and Spencer took the unusual step of releasing the results if its Christmas trading period 12 hours ahead of scheduled time last week. This showed that the retailer has experienced a larger than expected drop of around 1.8% in Christmas like-for like sales - mainly due to poor clothing and general merchandise sales. In a statement, Marc Bolland, Marks & Spencer chief executive, accepted that the company's clothing results were "not yet satisfactory," but advised that it is taking steps to improve its performance, including plans to transform from a traditional UK retailer to an international multi-channel retailer.
DOWN: Morrisons, the fourth largest supermarket chain in the UK, has reported that its sales over Christmas were disappointing - even after taking into account the current difficult market conditions. With like-for-like sales down 2.5% in the six weeks to the end of the year, it seems that Morrisons lack of online presence, convenience stores and Christmas promotions were the cause of its poor trading results. Morrisons is now set to open an online supermarket in the coming months, an plans to open 70 convenience stores by the end of 2013.
DOWN : Blacks and Millets. JD Sports  - which itself traded well over Christmas with like-for-like sales up by 3.2% - has advised that both Blacks and Millets (which it bought from administrators exactly a year ago) and its Bank and Scotts fashion stores saw disappointing sales in the run-up to and over the Christmas period. As a result, the Group's overall annual profits are expected to be at the lower end of City expectations - currently £60 million. Looking ahead, JD Sports expects that the positive changes it has made to the management team of Blacks and Millets will reap substantial changes in 2013.
DOWN: Greggs, despite selling record numbers of mince pies during the Christmas period, had a poor Christmas with like-for-like sales down 2.9% in the five weeks to 5 January. Similarly, for the full year, like-for-like sales were down 2.7%. Although  total sales rose by 4.3 % over the Christmas and News Year period, this growth was due entirely to new stores (100 new shops were opened in 2012) and new channels to market. Greggs now has 1,671 shops in the UK.

However, all was not bleak on the UK high street. Retailers reporting a positive trading period this Christmas included: Hobbs Whistles, New Look, Next, House of Fraser, Debenhams, John Lewis, Ted Baker, J D Sports Fashion, Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Tesco and Aldi.




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