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Dear Credit Insurance Colleague
Welcome to issue 19 of Credit Insurance News Digest:  12 February - 5 March 2013 brought to you by Credit Insurance News (www.creditinsurancenews.co.uk).
This issue is kindly sponsored by The Hub Agency.

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Index




Credit Insurance News
Euler Hermes launches new product, Simplicity, in the UK and Ireland. Euler Hermes advises that Simplicity is an 'off the shelf’ trade credit insurance policy which offers simple pricing and administration and a fast claims process on all debts over £200. Businesses are covered in the event of non-payment or insolvency for a minimum of 60% of the unpaid debt value to an agreed maximum limit as standard. However, this can be increased to 90% with a higher maximum if the policyholder applies for a Euler Hermes ‘grade’ and their customer is assessed as an acceptable risk. Lukas Neckermann, Commercial Director of Euler Hermes commented: “Small businesses recognise the benefit of protecting their business against the risk of not getting paid, but existing credit insurance policies have been seen as being too costly, confusing and impractical  . . . With Simplicity Euler Hermes has created an ‘out of the box’ product that requires no more administration than a motor or home contents policy." For a copy of the Simplicity brochure, which includes a price guide, call 0800 197 1298, email ehsimplicity@eulerhermes.com or visit www.ehsimplicity.co.uk.

Markel launches a trade tracking dashboard. Markel has advised that at the end of 2012, it launched a trade credit dashboard - an interactive online tool that allows users to make selections and instantly see the results, while data can also be exported for analysis outside the system. Clients have easy access to key information on their policies, notably pricing and structure, as well as full details of all buyer and country credit limits. There is also a broker version which, in addition to the benefits above, allows brokers to track all their Markel submissions and obtain relevant data such as approval and decline rates, and submission success ratios. Further enhancements are planned during 2013. For more information go to http://www.market-matters.biz/trade-talk/jan13/story-3.htm?dm_i=BA2,1AJP4,93XNR5,4DNM9,1.

AIG expands its trade credit insurance offering to the GCC. GTR has published an article 'AIG launches Mena cover' (19 February) which advises that trade credit insurance has experienced a tremendous growth in demand in the Middle East following a wave of defaults caused by the Arab Spring, and that AIG plans to capitalise on that demand, launching insurance services in a region where it previously had no footprint. The firm’s UK head of trade credit insurance, Will Clark, explained to GTR and reporters at the launch that AIG’s activity in the GCC will be outward-looking, aiming to support exporters principally. GCC clients will receive support from Mr Clark in London and Gautam Murkunde, head of credit insurance at Tata-AIG, in Mumbai. To view the full article go to http://www.gtreview.com/trade-finance/global-trade-review-news/2013/February/AIG-launches-Mena-cover_10685.shtml.

Peter Jones lost his business for lack of credit insurance. Uk.news.yahoo.com has published an article, 'How Peter Jones made £220m' (26 February) which looks at the career highs and lows of the Dragon's Den entrepreneur. The lows include a time in the early 1990's when his PC manufacturing business went under. However, a salutary lesson was learnt: "The reason I lost the business was naivety . . . I had an opportunity to take out credit insurance, but didn't. Companies I was supplying started to go bust, then I got hit. It was like a snowball." To view the full article go to http://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/how-peter-jones-made-220m-105653281.html.

Political turmoil in Mena countries has raised the profile of credit insurance. GTR has published an article, 'Security crucial for Middle East trade' (19 February), which advises that despite being in better shape than their European counterparts, GCC companies and banks are being extremely cautious when arranging trade transactions, which has resulted in increased demand for confirmed  trade credit insurance, letters of credit and warehouse receipts. Speaking at Exporta’s Middle East trade finance week in Dubai, Khemais El Gazzah, director of operations at the Islamic Corporations for the Insurance of Export and Credit, confirmed that the political turmoil in Mena countries has raised the profile of credit insurance in the region. To view the full article go to http://www.gtreview.com/trade-finance/global-trade-review-news/2013/February/Security-crucial-for-Middle-East-trade_10686.shtml.

Walkie Talkie to be Markel International's new home in London. Markel has announced that it has reserved two floors in the iconic Walkie Talkie building, which is now dominating the London skyline and will be due for completion in 2014. Together with the acquisition of Alterra, Markel advises that the change of address reflects the company's growth as a specialist global insurer and will provide a state-of-the-art business environment for brokers and Markel employees alike. Markel is due to move to the Walkie Talkie at the end of 2014/beginning of 2015. For more information go to http://www.market-matters.biz/trade-talk/jan13/story-8.htm?dm_i=BA2,1AJP4,93XNR5,4DNM9,1.

Scammers impersonating wine merchants are using fake Coface credit insurance. Decanter.com has published an article which advises that scammers impersonating bona fide wine merchants are using fake Coface credit insurance in order to appear credible. A spokesperson at Coface issued the following comment to the Digest: "We were disturbed to hear that Coface’s name was apparently used by these wine fraudsters. Sadly, identity crime is increasingly common in business. To help avoid falling victim to such scams, the key is to get to know your customers: always check new buyers using a credit reference agency and verify the delivery address and contact details you have been given. Be on your guard when orders or special requests seem outside the norm and don’t be afraid to ask questions or alert your colleagues. If you do suspect fraud, notify the police rather than alerting the criminals that you are onto them." To view the full article on Decanter.com go to http://www.decanter.com/news/wine-news/583655/attempted-wine-scams-top-1-5m-uk-trade-warns.

Trade Credit Insurance in the U.S. Plante Moran has published an article based on excerpts from the recent podcast, 'Trade Credit Insurance: What is it, and why do companies use it', featuring an interview with Greg Schultz, Vice President of One Source Risk Management and Funding. The article provides an overview of the trade credit insurance industry in the U.S., and lists the main reasons why U.S. companies should consider credit insurance. To view the article (which contains links to the podcast) go to http://www.plantemoran-digital.com/universaladvisor/2013iss1?pg=20&pm=2&u1=texterity&linkImageSrc=/universaladvisor/2013iss1/data/imgpages/tn/0020_tnnzqo.gif/#pg20.

Euler Hermes offers insights into Spain, Latin America economic trends, export opportunities. At the first public event hosted by Solunion, the credit insurance joint venture of Euler Hermes and MAPFRE, Euler Hermes chief economist Ludovic Subran offered insights into global, Spanish and Latin American economic scenarios and export trends. He also advised that Euler Hermes anticipates a global GDP increase of +2.5% for 2013, while global insolvencies, which rose by +1% in 2012, should further increase by 4% in 2013, mainly driven by high levels in Europe and increases in Africa. To view Euler Hermes' press release go to http://www.eulerhermes.com/mediacenter/news/Pages/Insights-into-Spain-Latin-America-economic-trends-export-opportunities-.aspx.

Business turnaround success advises that Atradius' credit checks are part of their winning strategy. Director magazine has published an article, 'Escape the zombie trap', which talks to companies that were pulled back from the brink and restored to financial health. One example is Makin Metal Powders UK, which, in a few short months transformed from a company with a £30 million turnover and a pre-tax profit of £500,000 to facing administration. To save the business Malpin introduced a new business plan and sharpened up its business practises. In addition, the company found that it helped to use Atradius credit checks on customers, partly because it encourages them to pay more promptly, "They know they could end up with a bad credit record." To view the full article go to http://www.director.co.uk/MAGAZINE/2013/02_February/Escape-zombie-trap_66_05.html.

Coface announces that it has simplified and streamlined the structure of its European credit insurance activities. As a result of a merger of its German, Austrian and Italian insurance subsidiaries and their branches, Coface will now carry out its credit insurance activity within the European Union through a single company incorporated under French law – Compagnie française d'assurance pour le commerce extérieur – grouping together 21 branches. This large-scale merger operation places all European credit insurance activities of Coface under the control of the sole French regulator, Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel. This streamlined structure anticipates the new regulatory framework of the Solvency II Directive. To view Coface's news release go to http://www.coface.com/CofacePortal/COM_en_EN/pages/home/Who_we_are/News?news=130212.

A subscription is needed to view the following article:
Retail Week has published an article, 'Suppliers increase their credit insurance cover after retail administrations' (25 February), which advises that, according to Atradius, suppliers to retailers increased their trade credit insurance cover by 17% last year driven by furniture and electronics businesses. To view the full article go to http://www.retail-week.com/in-business/supply-chain/suppliers-increase-their-credit-insurance-cover-after-retail-administrations/5046677.article?blocktitle=More-News-and-Insight&contentID=5271 (subscription required).




New Industry Reports and Financial Results
Atradius has published its latest Market Monitor on the construction industry. The report provides an overview of the current performance and outlook of the construction sector in: Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, Hungary, Mexico, Turkey, United Kingdom, USA. There is also a performance overview of 14 industries in more than 30 countries. In the UK, the report advises that public sector construction continues to bear the brunt of the government’s austerity measures and the hoped-for rise in private sector activity is yet to materialise. Even the largest players are now bidding for small contracts that in the past they would have passed on. To download a copy of the report from Atradius' website go to http://www.atradius.co.uk/creditmanagementknowledge/publications/market-monitor.html.

A multi-Country approach to Political Risk and Trade Credit Insurance. Marsh has published a new report, 'Taking a Multi-Country Approach to Political Risk and Trade Credit Insurance' which advises that, over the past decade, the practise used by many multinationals of purchasing separate political risk and trade credit insurance policies to cover particular risks in specific countries can leave them vulnerable to unexpected events. As a result, in recent years, many businesses have recognised the unpredictability of global risk and have increasingly turned to a broader approach to political and trade credit risk management through the purchase of multi-country insurance policies. Marsh provides an overview of the benefits of taking a multi-country approach, as well as advice for organizations doing business in countries with high levels of political risk. To view Marsh's news release go to http://usa.marsh.com/NewsInsights/ThoughtLeadership/Articles/ID/29546.aspx.

Euler Hermes predicts that Turkey will achieve 4% growth in 2013. Euler Hermes has published some of the speech highlights from its recent media roundtable event hosted by Euler Hermes Turkey, during which Chief Economist Ludovic Subran offered insights into global and Turkish economic scenarios and export trends. Mr Subran advised that Euler Hermes forecasts that Turkey will post a GDP growth of 4% in 2013 after showing resilience in 2012. Payment terms are on average 70 days, but often extend to 150-180 days in contrast to the new EU directive target of 60 days by 2015. Globally, the number of insolvencies is projected to increase by +4% in 2013, with the number of insolvencies set to increase by 5% in 2013. However, this is still behind the pace of increase in Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Greece and Luxembourg. For more information, go to http://www.eulerhermes.com/mediacenter/news/Pages/Turkey-the-green-island-of-Europe.aspx.

Atradius advises that Germany remains resilient. Atradius has published its latest country report on Germany which advises that in the last quarter of 2012 Germany’s economic performance lost some of its momentum, with GDP contracting 0.6% on the previous quarter due to lower exports and industrial production, while household and government spending increased slightly. To a certain extent, Atradius reports that the Eurozone’s economic problems were to blame, as demand from some of Germany’s main EU trading partners decreased. However, according to provisional calculations by the German Statistics Office, the economy still grew 0.7% in 2012 despite the difficult economic environment in Europe. Furthermore, in January 2013 Consensus Economics estimated that German GDP will again grow 0.7% in 2013 as there are signs that the German economy is already rebounding from its Q4 of 2012 contraction. To view the report go to http://global.atradius.com/creditmanagementknowledge/germany/germany-cr-overview.html.

Euler Hermes advises that its 2012 results show steady growth and profitability. Euler Hermes has announced that its turnover for 2012 was €2,397.9 million, up 5.4% versus the prior year, boosted by growth outside traditional European markets. In addition, operating profit remained strong at €424.7 million and new production and retention reached another record high, with new production reaching €286 million and retention at 92% of the opening portfolio. Net income was €300.2 million, which was below 2011 - but ahead of 2010. Turnover growth was slow in traditional European markets, but was good in the Americas and Asia. In addition, initiatives in Turkey and the Gulf Countries also paid off and boosted growth in the Mediterranean region. To view Euler Hermes' press release and/or view a presentation of results go to http://www.eulerhermes.com/mediacenter/news/Pages/euler-hermes-annual-financial-results-2012.aspx.

Coface announces improved results in 2012 - despite the crisis. Coface has published its latest results for 2012 and has reported a positive trend resulting from the overhaul of Coface via the implementation of the “Strong Commitment” plan. Current operating profit totaled €189 million, up 62% compared to 2011 (+10% excluding restructuring costs from the first half of 2011). Net profit totaled €129 million, up 80% (+6.6% excluding restructuring costs from the first half of 2011). Overall, premiums rose by 3.1% - with particularly strong growth in emerging markets Asia Pacific (+20.1%) and Latin America (+18.5%). In addition, in the U.S. premiums displayed significant growth (+14.2%), while premiums in Western Europe (+2.4%) and in Central Europe (+14.9%) also remained positive. To view Coface's news release go to http://www.coface.com/CofacePortal/COM_en_EN/pages/home/Who_we_are/News?news=130228.

Ducroire | Delcredere’s latest country report advises that the outlook for Thailand's economy is cautiously positive. In 2011, Thailand narrowly avoided a recession (+0.1%) caused by devastating monsoon-related floods which hit the Bangkok region in particular. Subsequent spending for reconstruction has supported economic activity. Tourism, the country’s second source of export earnings, has recovered very fast as the pacified political situation lead to record tourist arrivals (notably from China, Malaysia and Russia). The return of confidence has been translated into FDI inflows continuing their upward trend. Moreover, private consumption was stronger as it was boosted by favourable government decisions. All in all, these engines have brought GDP growth around 5.5% in 2012. To view the full report go to http://www.ducroiredelcredere.co.uk/WebDuk/WebSite.nsf/%28ScrollNews%29/Thailand?OpenDocument.

Increased non-payments among Italian businesses in 2012. Euler Hermes has published it latest Non-Payments Report, a quarterly survey on payment trends among Italian businesses which advises that in 2012 the frequency of non-payments in the domestic market rose by 15% compared to 2011; higher for payments to exporters at +16%. Michele Pignotti, Head of Region Mediterranean Countries, Africa and Middle East, commented: ”Many domestic market sectors are impacted: food in particular, affected by an inefficient distribution chain and growing costs for farmers; transport is heavily impacted by high fuel costs; automotive faced a strong decline in demand. Household appliances, the only sector showing positive signs, are boosted mainly by new high-tech products now entering homes.” For more information, go to http://www.eulerhermes.com/mediacenter/news/Pages/Increased-non-payments-among-Italian-businesses-in-2012.aspx.




Career Opportunities and New Appointments
Career Opportunities from the Digest's Sponsor - The Hub Agency
Trade Credit & Political Risks Underwriter – Salary Neg. – Ref. Kl/129
This progressive Lloyd’s Syndicate is seeking an experienced Trade Credit & PR Underwriter to set up a new line of business for them. They have an overall stamp capacity of £200 million and a diverse portfolio of insurances including Terrorism. They wish to complement their current offering and would expect you to bring a book of business with you. This is an exceptional opportunity for the right candidate to have a positive impact on the business and help them grow it in line with their ambitions. For more information contact Kristina Lushey on 07931 371990 or email Kristina@thehubagency.co.uk.

The Hub Agency also has a number of Credit & Political Risks vacancies Nationwide, not just in the South East, but also in the Midlands and Manchester. We offer broking/business development roles as well as underwriting opportunities. Please contact us for more information. We don’t always display these roles on our website due to confidentiality issues in a very close knit market.

Additional Vacancies and New Appointments
Trade Credit New Business Producer, Cardiff (Ref: 27621). Salary:  £30,000 - £35,000

An established, reputable Insurance Company is looking for a Trade Credit New Business Producer for their Cardiff office. Essentially to help grow the business, open doors, sell the brand and become part of the company's expansion. This is an external, field based role but will require the job holder to visit the Cardiff office once or twice weekly. Requirements for the role include: extensive experience as a New Business Producer within the credit market (preferably with working exposure to the Wales region), a proven sales track record, excellent presentation and communication skills. To view the full job description go to http://www.lawesrecruitment.co.uk/jobs/uk/trade-credit-new-business-producer-cardiff/1004/ and/or for further information phone 0117 911 3730 or email bristol@lawesgroup.co.uk.(Please mention Credit Insurance News Digest).

Business Development Manager, London. Excellent package to include bonus, car and benefits
A major Trade Credit & Political Risk insurer based in the City is seeking an experienced Business Development Manager to join the team. Working within the Major Accounts section you'll be responsible for clients who have turnovers of no less than £100 million. The role will see you continuing to strengthen broker relations and promote the brand, meet with clients to assist brokers secure new business, discuss pricing with brokers and promote the brand and product through other selected intermediaries. Contact Kerren Leach at kerren.leach@reedglobal.com or call 0207 220 4777 or 07940 403046 for a confidential discussion. (Please mention Credit Insurance News Digest).

Risk Underwriter, London. To £50,000 basic, with bonus and benefits.
A well respected insurer in London seeks an experienced Risk Underwriter to join their team. You'll be responsible for carrying out ongoing analysis on clients' exposure, amending credit limits, meeting with clients to discuss their exposure and advising on how to mitigate this. The role will see you involved with a wide variety of industries and clients. Contact Kerren Leach at kerren.leach@reedglobal.com or call 0207 220 4777 or 07940 403046 for a confidential discussion. (Please mention Credit Insurance News Digest).

Trade Credit Broker, London. To £75,000 basic, with bonus and benefits.
A top broking house is seeking an experienced, market facing broker to work within their London offices. The role will see you dealing with a mixed portfolio of client sizes, placing all types of trade credit risk into the Lloyds & London Market. Typically these will be single risk, although some top end WTO will be involved. Experience broking similar risks is essential. An excellent career path on offer for the right candidate.Contact Kerren Leach at kerren.leach@reedglobal.com or call 0207 220 4777 or 07940 403046 for a confidential discussion. (Please mention Credit Insurance News Digest).

Frank Burghardt joins Markel to lead its trade credit business in Germany. Markel International has announced that it has strengthened its trade credit division with the appointment of Frank Burghardt. Mr Burghardt joins Markel from Aon Credit International in Hamburg, where he was a senior trade credit account manager, with responsibilities including handling multinational companies and promoting business expansion. Markel advises that the new appointment not only underlines the continuing growth of Markel’s trade credit division, it also reflects the company’s growing presence in Germany and the opportunities for developing trade credit business in the local marketplace. For more information go to http://www.markelintl.com/Mediacentre/News/tabid/397/vw/1/ItemID/197/Default.aspx?SkinSrc=[G]Skins%2fMarkelRebrand%2fSimple+-+Grey.

Markel appoints Julia Sanassi as a senior risk analyst in its London underwriting team. Ms Sanassi, who begins her new role in February, joins from XL Group in New York and will concentrate on credit appraisal, country and sovereign risks, and trade and export finance risk assessment. She has a strong background in the analysis of corporate and bank risks, principally in emerging markets. In her most recent role, in New York, she was a senior risk analyst - trade credit and political risk. She has also worked for Commerzbank in New York and London and holds an MBA from St John's University, Rome. For more information go to http://www.markelintl.com/Mediacentre/News/tabid/397/vw/1/ItemID/196/Default.aspx?SkinSrc=[G]Skins%2fMarkelRebrand%2fSimple+-+Grey.




Industry Events
Credit Summit 2013. Credit Today’s Credit Summit returns on 13 March 2013 to the QE11 Conference Centre in London and attracts around 700 credit industry professionals. The event offers free content including an Economic Outlook from ex-chief economist of HSBC Dennis Turner, a timely regulatory briefing from the FSA on the move to the FCA, in addition to a number of workshops for trade credit managers. The event also offers an exhibition with more than 35 stands, and three paid-for conferences including Credit & Collections, Alternative Lending and Data, Risk and Fraud starting from £299. For more information on this event go to http://www.creditsummit.co.uk/.

Dates for the STECIS Trade Credit Insurance and Surety (Basic and Advanced) Training Seminar have been announced for 21 & 22 March and 13 & 14 June 2013 (The Hague, the Netherlands). The Basic training seminars are open to participants with up to 3 years of work experience. The Advanced training seminars are targeting participants who attended the basic training seminars and/or have at least 4 years of work experience in trade credit insurance or surety. As the International Credit Insurance & Surety Association (ICISA) strongly endorses the STECIS training seminar programme, ICISA member companies receive a 5% discount on the total seminar fee. Companies (ICISA members and non-ICISA members) registering three or more participants to one training seminar, receive a 10% discount on the total seminar fee. For more information contact info@stecis.org or call +31 20 528 5170.




Business Information: Recommended Reports and Business Shorts
Retail store shutdowns climb tenfold in a year. According to new research by PwC and Local Data Company, Great Britain’s multiple retailers closed 20 stores a day on average across the UK’s top 500 town centres in 2012. The data also revealed that card, computer games, clothes, banks, health foods, jewellers, travel agents, recruitment agencies and sports goods shops have been amongst the hardest hit in 2012. Pound shops, pawnbrokers, charity shops, cheque cashing (payday loans), betting shops, supermarkets and coffee shops bucked the trend showing growth during the year. Analysis of the three months between December 2012 and February 2013 shows that the potential rate of closures- principally through administrations- would accelerate to 28 per day for this period. To view PwC's news release go to http://www.ukmediacentre.pwc.com/News-Releases/PwC-and-the-Local-Data-Company-s-retail-store-closure-statistics-show-shutdowns-climb-tenfold-in-a-y-1383.aspx.

January business insolvency figures hit lowest rate since June 2007. The latest Insolvency Index from Experian has revealed a significant drop in the rate of business insolvencies in January 2013, as it hits its lowest level since June 2007. The data shows that 0.06% of the business population (1,271 companies) failed in January 2013. This marks a fall from 0.07% in January 2012 and down from 0.08% at the end of last year. The UK’s mid-sized firms saw the biggest fall in insolvency rates in January 2013, as businesses with between 26-50 employees and 51-100 employees, experienced a fall from 0.20% in January 2012 to 0.14% in January this year and 0.14% to 0.07% respectively. The UK’s smallest businesses (1-2 employees) saw a slight fall in the insolvency rate compared to figures at the end of last year; however the picture for businesses with less than 10 employees remains broadly flat. To view Experian's news release go to http://press.experian.com/United-Kingdom/Press-Release/january-business-insolvency-figures-hit-lowest-rate-since-june-2007.aspx.

QBE study finds that UK firms are less than optimistic about the prospects for the UK national economy. QBE has published a new video clip on its website which describes the results of a recent study which shows that 87% of those companies surveyed do not expect the economy to recover within the next two years. In fact, just 9% of UK businesses expect a full economic recovery within this time frame - a notable decline on the 21% of respondents that predicted this kind of boost back in 2011. Overall, the QBE research paints a bleak picture for the market with 61% of those surveyed predicting that economic recovery will take three years or more. To view QBE's video clip go to http://www.qbeeurope.com/video/player.asp?VideoID=40011101.

FPB advises that changes to the Prompt Payment Code are needed to prevent slow payers signing. The Forum of Private Business is urging changes to the Prompt Payment Code (PPC) after it has learned firms with payment times as long as 90 days are planning to sign up. One example of this is thought to be Unilever, which is planning to sign the PPC despite its lengthy 90-day payment times for suppliers. The Forum said this type of behaviour was clearly undermining the spirit of the PPC, even if it was not technically breaching the current eligibility requirements allowing firms to join. To view the FPB's news release go to http://www.fpb.org/news/2593/Forum_urges_changes_to_Prompt_Payment_Code_to_prevent_slow_payers_signing.htm.
Note: The ICM has recently advised that, as of Friday 1st March 2013, the total number of signatories to the PPC stood at 1,334, including: 65 FTSE100; 63 FTSE250 and 128 of the FTSE350.

BCC reports an improvement in export activity for both manufacturing and services firms. The results for the Q4 2012 DHL/BCC Trade Confidence Index  point to an improvement in export activity for both manufacturing and services firms, with results that show that exporting firms are more confident about their longer term outlook than at any time over the past two years. Both manufacturing and service firms reported increased export orders and sales over the three-month period from October to December, with rises of 1.4% on previous quarter and 5.2% on previous year. There was also a marked increase in both manufacturing and service firms who expect their turnover and profitability to improve over 2013. To view the full report go to http://www.britishchambers.org.uk/policy-maker/policy-reports-and-publications/dhl/bcc-trade-confidence-index-q4-12.html#.UTNjiFcnKE8.

Monsoon enters the Forum’s Hall of Shame after extending payment times by 50%. High street fashion retailer Monsoon Accessorize has been placed in the Forum of Private Business's Hall of Shame having increased payment times from 60 to 90 days. The retailer has also informed new suppliers they will be subject to a mandatory 4% supplier invoice discount. The move sees Monsoon joining the likes of Sainsbury's and GlaxoSmithKline in the Forum's Hall of Shame. "Monsoon is hitting new suppliers with a double whammy here," said the Forum's spokesman Robert Downes. "First they increase payment times to 90 days from an already pedestrian 60. Then they slap on an outrageous 4% supplier invoice discount charge. Just exactly what planet are they on in the current economic climate?" To view the FPB's news release go to http://www.fpb.org/news/2596/Monsoon_enters_the_Forum_s_Hall_of_Shame_after_extending_payment_times_by_50_.htm.




The UK High Street: Who's UP/Who's DOWN
UP: Thorntons' three year turn-around strategy appears to be paying off with the Chocolatier announcing that, compared to the year before, in the 28 weeks ended January 12 its sales rose by 2.9% to £133.7 million pounds, with a massive 71% increase in pre-tax profits to £5.3 million. Sales were primarily driven by a 16% (to £51.8 million) increase in supermarket sales and sales to third party retailers, while own stores sales decreased by 8.3%, online sales decreased by 11.9% (due to operational issues). Thorntons now plans to continue to pursue its aim to halve its number of stores to 180-200.
UP: Primark has seen an exceptionally strong performance during the past few months, according to its owner Associated British Foods. In the first six months of the group's financial year, which ends on 2 March, total sales are expected to be up 23% year-on-year, with like-for-like sales 7% higher. Profit margins were also higher thanks to lower cotton prices and better trading. Interestingly, as Primark has no online presence, it success is in stark contrast to the vast majority of retailers whose results (when positive) are driven by online selling.
UP: Sainsbury's announced that it had reached a "significant milestone" when its non-food sales reached £1 billion a year for the first time. This follows a particularly strong performance over Christmas - in which year-on-year sales were a third higher. Top performers during the year included cookware sales (up 16%) and small electricals (up 21%). Overall, general merchandise has grown at around three times the rate of Sainsbury's food range.
UP (Online): Asda. Although Asda’s like-for-like sales for 2012 were fairly flat at 1% and the supermarket chain predicts another challenging year in 2013, its online sales have soared. During the fourth quarter, online sales rose by 18.8% compared to the same period in 2011, with click-and-collect especially popular as well as clothes from George.com (the third largest UK clothing retailer according to Kantar Worldpanel). Looking ahead, the retailer is set to promote George to 24 European countries in 2013 and develop its multichannel offer.
UP: Sports Direct appears to be bucking the economic climate and, unlike its erstwhile competitor JJB Sports, is thriving. In the 13 weeks leading to 27 January, the retailer's total sales rose by just over 21% to £589.5 million and pre-tax profits increased by 23% to £244.8 million, and it looks certain to reach its full-year profits target of £270 million. The firm credits motivated staff as one of the key drivers of its success, as well as its growing internet presence and expansion in Europe.
UP: Nisa Retail has announced that it has secured a £100 million multi-product financing package with Barclays - co-ordinated across the bank's debt finance, sales and trade finance teams. Since 2007, the company (which already supplies 3,750 independent small UK stores) has grown by 50% to £1.5 billion, and now plans to invest in store refits for its retailers, branding initiatives and investment in product margins.
Profit warning: Debenhams has issued a profit warning, and has blamed severe disruption from heavy snow as the cause. Like for-like sales slumped by around 10% in the period 14-27 January when the winter conditions were at their worst, leading to an anticipated reduction in first half pre-tax profits to £120 million - £130 million has been predicted. However, like-for-like sales for the entire 26 weeks to 2 March rose 3%, and Debenhams stressed that its second-half forecasts are likely to be robust.




About this week's sponsor: The Hub Agency

Hub Agency Limited is a new agency, backed by an experienced management team with a proven track record within their specialism and an unrivalled network within their sector.

Kristina Lushey, DipCII is the Hub Agency Limited’s Credit & Political Risks Specialist. She was a Placing Broker in this market in the early 1990s, and has some 15 years experience recruiting in this market. She has had some notable success in placing talented individuals into key roles and can assist both candidates and clients in finding the right fit for them. She has had some notable success in placing talented individuals into key roles and can assist both candidates and clients in finding the right fit for them.

For more detailed information please review the website at www.thehubagency.co.uk, or call Kristina for a confidential discussion on 07931 371990.




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