Credit Insurance News Digest 15 - 29 November.

Credit Insurance News Digest is a service provided by Credit Insurance News. This issue is sponsored by Markel International
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Dear Credit Insurance Colleague
Welcome to issue 14 of Credit Insurance News Digest: 15-29 November 2012 brought to you by Credit Insurance News (
This issue is kindly sponsored by Markel, the specialist trade credit insurer.

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Credit Insurance News
'Credit insurance: The hidden data-driven force which killed Comet.' The Channel has published an article by Eddie Pacey which advises that: "a quick look at what happened to high street electronics retailer Comet when its credit insurers slammed their wallets shut should be enough to get any IT business interested in cash-flow, insurance and credit lines." The article also examines the issues surrounding too much as well as too little credit, and discusses some of the advantages and disadvantages of distributor accelerator plans. To view the article on The Channel's website go to

Equinox Global launches a new trade credit solution for the German market. The product includes non cancellable limits and allows clients to trade above credit limits without penalties. Standard risk attaching, and full comprehensive coverage including political risk, are also main features. Mike Holley, Chief Executive Officer of Equinox Global, commented: “The intricacies of the German trade credit market provides an excellent opportunity for Equinox Global to continue to expand our business here. Traditionally credit insurers have tended to micro manage the setting of credit limits - the Equinox Global product allows a partnership, letting the client follow his own credit limit strategy." To view Equinox Global's press release go to

Chaucer launches Political Risk, Trade Credit in New York. has published an article, 'Chaucer Launches Political Risk, Trade Credit in New York' (15 November) which advises that Chaucer has announced that it is launching a new political risk and trade credit coverage in New York. Andrew Voke, head of Syndicate 1084 production and marine divisional head, says, "The response received from U.S. brokers has been extremely positive." To view the full article on's website go to

Euler Hermes advises that the Turkish domestic market offers significant opportunities for credit insurance growth. During a recent event attended by nearly 100 clients and business community leaders, Euler Hermes advised that as Turkey’s GDP is now the 6th largest in Europe - at €622 billion, the country presents a myriad of new and diversified export opportunities for Turkish businesses. Over the last 10 months, the credit exposure of Turkish companies covered by trade credit insurance increased by 186%; an evolution which, Euler Hermes reported. underlines a growing awareness of credit insurance as a financial management tool for safeguarding cashflow, in export growth strategies. To view Euler Hermes press release go to

'Why did Comet fail? Hint: It wasn't just the credit insurers.' In a second article published on The Channel, Eddie Pacey advises that signs that all was not well with Comet can be traced back to 2008, when Comet's profit before tax tumbled and both credit insurers and suppliers got nervous. Consequently, in 2008, Coface was the first to lower the level of cover it provided, although others stuck with the retailer. Then, when Kesa sold the business OpCapita last November last year for a notional £2, cover was pulled totally. To view the full article, go to

New Alliance aims to provide its clients with a Global Credit Insurance Solution. On 08 November 2012 Global Trade Credit Alliance (GTCA) formally launched their new Alliance network to the Underwriting market at Tower Bridge, London. In attendance were all the major Global Underwriters from all the member countries. GTCA believes that credit insurance is a Global Speciality Product, which needs to be delivered by a truly “Global Broker”, and advises that it aims to provide its clients with a Global Credit Insurance Solution - streamlining policies by using its experience and utilising local knowledge from leading credit insurance professionals. To view GTCA'S website go to

Atradius and Bishop Fleming collaborate on Insider Media's first Midlands International Trade Survey. Insider Media has published an article, 'Lack of knowledge 'stops Midlands exports'' (29 November), which advises that according to Insider's first Midlands international trade survey, conducted by Atradius and Bishop Fleming, 46.7% of businesses not considering export believe a lack of knowledge is a major barrier. Kurt Jacobs, editor of Midlands Business Insider, said: "It's a shame that more companies don't have the confidence to explore lucrative foreign markets, but our survey indicates that with the right support in place they could be given the confidence to look overseas." To view the full article go to A link to a download with full coverage of the survey is available from this webpage.

New app assesses the economic reliability of each company in Europe. A new service
which gives access to financial information of 30 million European companies has just been launched by app S-PEEK, which is available for android and iPhone/iPad, offers free access to the S-Peek credit rating on more that 15 million companies, or pay-per-view full reports are also available which contain balance sheet and income statements, credit ratings for the last three years, credit limits, peer group data, web information as well as S-PEEK's Social Rating (user's subjective ratings). A basic report is also available. On downloading the app, five full reports are given for example purposes. For more information go to

Announcing our new service. Credit Insurance News is launching a series of regular additional specialist business information digests on a wide range of subjects of interest to the industry: from cash flow, late payments and insolvency, to trade sectors and economic outlooks. As with our previous short editorial pieces, our analysis will seek to look behind the immediate facts and figures and uncover variations and contradictions between information sources and press releases to present you with an objective, full and balanced picture. The first paper in late January will be on UK insolvency. Click here if you would like to sign up to this free additional service.

Web poll Update: How could the UK the UK government tackle B2B late payment? Many thanks to the 96 subscribers who have voted so far in our web poll. Interestingly the results show a polarisation between those who consider late payment an unwelcome fact of business life and those who think that stronger action should be taken by the UK government. So far, exactly 45.8% of respondents felt that late payment is an accepted, though unwelcome, practice which is unlikely to change with or without Government intervention, 37.5% felt that it should become common and accepted practice to impose at least minimal late payment charges on late payers, 12.5% felt the UK Government should do a little more (e.g. naming and shaming clear offenders), and only 4.2% felt that the UK is moving in the right direction generally. If you disagree (or agree) with these results, please do add your vote. Full results will be given in the next issue of the Digest.

Credit Insurers: New Reports and Video Clips
Atradius reports that around 30% of the total value of B2B invoices in Asia-Pacific are past due. The November 2012 Atradius Payment Practices Barometer focusing on Asia-Pacific also highlights that, compared to one year ago, businesses in the region experienced a significant increase in the value of B2B receivables written-off as uncollectable - from an average of 3.6% in 2011 to an average of 5.0% in 2012. In addition, over the past year, nearly three times as many respondents experienced an increase in DSO  (days sales outstanding) than did a decrease. To download the full report go to

Atradius publishes its latest Country Risk report on Brazil. Atradius' latest Country Risk Report - Brazil Nov 2012, advises that Brazil’s economic performance has lost some of its momentum since 2011. After 2.7% growth in 2011, GDP is expected to increase only 1.5% in 2012. However, there are signs of a rebound in the second half of this year which will gain strength in 2013, and between 2013-2015 a yearly GDP growth of 4%-5% is expected. To download the full report go to Atradius has also published a report, 'Trade successfully with Brazil,' which looks at ten principles that those seeking to expand their sales strategy into Brazil should follow. To view go to

Ducroire | Delcredere publishes its latest report on Venezuela. Ducroire | Delcredere's latest report on Venezuela is now available and includes an executive summary, a section giving facts and figures/pros and cons and a country risk assessment. To view the report go to

Atradius publishes its latest Country Risk report on Spain. Atradius latest Country Risk Report - Spain Nov 2012 advises that Spanish business insolvencies are rising again in 2012, and that Spain’s economy will contract in 2012 and 2013. To view the full report go to

Coface's India Focus advises that companies are hampered by the slow pace of reform. Coface has published its latest Panorama Country Risk - Focus India, which advises that the Indian economic engine is spluttering  - but continues to run. Growth was only 5.3% in Q2 2012, its lowest level in nine years. To download the full report go to

Atradius' video clip discusses late payment in North America. Atradius has published a clip on YouTube in which Doug Collins, Head of  Risk Services, NAFTA, discusses the findings of Atradius recent 'Payment Practices Barometer' for North America (U.S., Canada and Mexico). The Barometer found, for example, that companies in the U.S. are now taking about 20% longer to pay their bills than in the last survey, while companies in Canada are taking a dramatic 50% longer. To view the clip go to

Atradius launches its first Country Report on Russia. Atradius has launched its latest country report on Russia, which shows that increased liquidity and solvency in the country’s economy could place it as one of the world’s top export markets, competing with the likes of China. In its new report, Atradius shows that the Russian economy has fully recovered from the 2009 recession and has grown steadily at a rate of around 4% a year on the back of a boom in consumption brought about by higher oil prices. In comparison, China’s GDP increased at its slowest pace in three years during the third quarter of 2012. The Report is available for download at

Industry Events
Action For Business - A seminar on Challenges and Changes in the UK Economy. Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce in Partnership with Atradius is holding a breakfast seminar, 'Action For Business - A seminar on Challenges and Changes in the UK Economy,' at 7.30am on 4 December at Cloud 23, Hilton Manchester Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LQ, Manchester City Centre. Expert speakers include Michael Thomas, Senior Manager of Special Risk Management at Atradius who will examine some of the recent trends in UK trading risks, and Dr Brian Sloan, Chief Economist at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce who will present an economic overview that outlines business experience in the North West region within the context of national and international economic developments. The seminar is free to attend. For more information, go to

Career Opportunities and New Appointments
NEW LISTING - Coface: Political Risk Underwriter. Competitive package
Coface are now seeking an Underwriter in Political Risk with a proven track record for developing confident relationships within the Political Risk market in London. The successful candidate will also be responsible for growing Coface's existing client portfolio by pursuing new business opportunities and maintaining Coface's excellent long-term broker and client relationships, with a high quality of service. For more information please send your cv, with a covering letter and salary expectations to (Please quote Credit Insurance News Digest if applying).

STILL RECRUITING - New Business Development Executive: Reynolds Trade Credit, Manchester office.
Reynolds Trade Credit ( is one of the UK’s leading independent specialist credit insurance brokers with offices in Manchester (Head Office), Sheffield and London, currently celebrating its 100th year in business. An opportunity has arisen for a New Business Development Executive working out of the Manchester office. The applicant must be experienced in B2B Trade Credit Insurance Sales with a proven track record. Salary is negotiable dependent on experience and target agreed. Please forward your CV to or (Please quote Credit Insurance News Digest if applying).

STILL RECRUITING - Credit Risk Manager / Lead Credit Analyst: Basic up to £80,000 base plus generous car allowance and additional generous benefits.
A credit risk manager (or lead credit analyst) is sought for one of the world’s most valuable publicly traded companies, to support the UK and Ireland regions. The role has a financial analysis focus, and sits within the Sales Finance function of the business. Your mission will be to support growing sales while mitigating bad debts risks. Technically, you’ll need to be an expert in financial analysis of the customer to determine acceptable levels of credit risk and exposure. You will be "hands-on" in assessing the credit worthiness of large strategic accounts and could be recommending credit lines with values in the £100’s of millions. You must be able to apply your expert knowledge of credit analysis and credit risk management in a practical way within a commercial trading environment - i.e. trade credit risk. You will manage and mentor a small team of Trade Credit Analysts (3 people), and in addition to day to day work, you'll participate in projects to improve processes and procedures in the Trade Credit Risk function. For more information contact T: 0208 123 8807, M: 07968 942140. Further information is also available at (Please quote Credit Insurance News Digest if applying).

New Appointments
Tinubu Square makes new senior appointment. Tinubu Square, the Paris-based developer of Credit risk solutions for credit insurers and enterprises, has announced that Michael Feldwick has been appointed as head of UK and Ireland. Michael will have responsibility shaping Tinubu Square's growth strategy in the UK. Prior to this appointment, Michael was Head of Foreign Risk Underwriting at Euler Hermes. To view Tinubu Square's press release go to,news.php.

New appointment at Euler Hermes. Euler Hermes has announced that Jean Placotaris has been appointed chief executive officer of the Group’s trade debt collection entity Euler Hermes Collections effective 12th November 2012. Prior to joining Euler Hermes, Placotaris held various international management positions in the financial services sector for over 20 years, including Credit Agricole, Visa International and Cofidis. To view Euler Hermes' press release go to

UK Export Finance announces its new Interim Chief Executive. David Havelock, Director of Credit Risk Group, has now taken over as interim Chief Executive of UK Export Finance. David entered the Civil Service after a long career in the corporate banking and corporate finance world including 9 years in Asia and reached the senior position of Head of Credit in corporate banking services at NatWest Bank. Following his career of 34 years with NatWest he has also been a Director at Close Brothers Corporate Finance, and a Director at both Arthur Anderson and Ernst & Young. David joined UK Export Finance in October 2005 as Director of Credit Risk Group and a member of the Management Board. For more information go to

Business Information: Recommended Reports and Business Shorts
Recommended Reports
A slow return of business confidence to the UK. The latest Baker Tilly Outlook 2013 survey, conducted by YouGov, shows that businesses have recovered from the shock of the double-dip recession to report growing levels of confidence as they look forward to 2013. But, in a sign of the continuing tough trading conditions, more respondents expect gross margins and headcounts to fall than to rise, and doubts remain over the impact of the government’s austerity programme. Encouragingly, decision-makers this year are more confident in the prospects for their business, with the level of confidence rising by 4% to 54%. In line with this trend, the proportion of those with negative expectations also fell by 4%, to 18%, suggesting businesses are adjusting to the ‘new normal’ and realigning their expectations accordingly. To view the full report go to

Emerging nations surge as U.S., Germany and Japan face changing game. According to the 2013 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index report from Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Global Manufacturing Industry group and the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, over the next five years, 20th-century manufacturing stalwarts like the United States, Germany and Japan will be challenged to maintain their competitive edge to emerging nations such as India and Brazil. This shift will clearly impact the UK, as it is predicted to drop from the 15th most competitive nation today, to 19th position in five years’ time. This slide in competitiveness also holds true for several other European nations, including France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal, Poland and the Czech Republic, which are all expected to experience a dramatic decrease in their ability to compete. To download the Index please visit

D&B advises that it is premature to assume that the UK economy has returned to a sustained growth path. D&B has published its latest D&B Quarterly Industry Report which covers 2012 to end-September. The report cautions against post-Olympic optimism, predicting 0% GDP growth for the year, and advises that “payment and credit risk remains elevated in the UK economy.” Overall, 8% of UK are judged to be at risk of collapse – predominantly in the retail and construction sectors and, looking ahead, D&B predict that business failures will only begin decline after 2013. To view the full report go to

Business Shorts
Business insolvencies continue downward trend. The latest BusinessIQ Insolvency Index from Experian has revealed an 8.7% fall in the number of business insolvencies during October 2012 compared to the same month last year. The figures highlight an increasingly stable picture amongst businesses, with the data showing that 0.08% of the business population (i.e., 1,685 companies) failed in October 2012, compared to 0.10% in October 2011. The greatest improvement in the average rate of insolvencies was seen by firms with 101 to 500 employees. To view Experian's detailed press release go to

Zombie company headache turns into migraine for banks. According to KPMG’s second annual report on zombie companies or those which are either marginally profitable or loss-making, the construction and real estate sector has topped the list for the area experiencing the worst effects of the downturn. Banks are now work predicting a hike in the numbers of formal insolvencies and increased activity in distressed M&A, possibly via ‘pre-pack’. Loan book sales are also expected to ramp up. To view KPMG's press release go to

14,000 new zombie companies created since June. There are now 160,000 zombie businesses in the UK, that is businesses only able to pay the interest on their debt but not the debt itself, according to research by insolvency trade body R3. This is nearly a 10% increase on the number of business owners who said in July they were only servicing their interest, when it stood at 146,000 (or then 8%, today 9% of all UK businesses). This follows a gloomy pronouncement from Sir Mervyn King that Britain, “may be in for a period of persistently low growth. To view R3's news release go to

Hidden business debt costing the UK economy £4.7 billion a year. Experian has published its latest BusinessIQ analysis suggesting that an average of £4.7 billion in unpaid debt may be left behind every year by UK firms that simply choose to close down. Experian’s BusinessIQ analysis reveals that each year in addition to the billions in debt left behind by firms that are unable to pay their creditors and go through official insolvency proceedings, another 50% as much again may also be left behind as debt by the 13% of solvent companies that have voluntarily chosen to wind up. To view Experian's full press release go to

Global economy facing hesitant and uneven recovery, says OECD: The OECD has advised in its latest Economic Outlook that the global economy is expected to make a hesitant and uneven recovery over the coming two years, with GDP growth across the OECD in 2013 projected to match this year’s at 1.4% - before gathering momentum to 2.3% for 2014. To download the full report, to watch a video presentation of the Outlook's findings or to view a webcast of the press conference go to (Global economy facing hesitant and uneven recovery, says OECD,' © OECD, 2012).

House of Commons debate the Prompt Payment Code. On 8 November 2012, the House of Commons held a debate to consider means of stimulating growth through better use of the Prompt Payment Code. Both the debate itself as well as a transcript of the debate are available from the ICM's website -

Shop vacancies reach a new high. According to the latest BRC/Springboard Footfall and Vacancy Monitor: August-October, the national town centre vacancy rate in the UK was 11.3% in October 2012 (high streets and shopping centres) - the highest figure since BRC began the Monitor in July 2011. Northern Ireland (20.0%), Wales (15.1%) and the North & Yorkshire (14.6%) recorded the highest vacancy rates. To view the BRC's press release go to

Who's UP/Who's DOWN
UP: Easyjet, Europe's second-largest budget airline, has announced that its annual pre-tax profits have increased by 28% to £317 million, with total revenues up by 11.6% to £3.9 billion. The airline now plans to increase flight capacity by about 3.5% in the first half of 2013, including new routes from London and Manchester to Moscow.
UP: Arcadia has announced a 25% rise in profits before tax and one-off items to £166.9 million for the year to 25 August. However, as like-for-like sales actually reduced 0.7% overall (by 3.2% in the UK) and total sales were largely flat at £2.68 billion, the increase in profits is clearly driven by improving margins rather than sales. Topman followed by Miss Selfridge are the Group's top performing retailers.
UP: Daily Mail & General Trust (DGMT) has announced that its full-year results for the 12 months to 30 September have shown a 10% increase in profits to £255 million, and a reduction to its net debt of £106 million (now £613 million). This result comes despite virtually flat revenues, which at £1.96 billion were 1% down on the previous year’s figures. Note: Just a few days ago, DMGT also announced the sale of Northcliffe Media to Local World for £52.5 million cash, although DMGT will continue to hold a 38.7% stake.
DOWN (but improving): Dixons has announced a pre-tax half-year loss of £79.5 million compared with a £2.4 million profit in 2011, primarily due a 45.2 million writedown in its online gadget store Pixmania's value. However, total group sales were positive with a 4% to £3.29 billion, while its business in UK and Ireland achieved profitability for the first time in five years. After the current period of 'fire-sales,' Dixons is also expecting to benefit in the coming months from the demise of its former rival Comet.
DOWN (but improving): Mothercare's current turnaround strategy appears to be working . . . but there is clearly some way to go! Although still showing an underlying pretax loss of £600,000 million in the 28 weeks to October 13, this is a dramatic improvement compared with the loss of £4.4 million the business registered in the same period last year. Similarly, while like-for-like sales declined by 3.4%, this was a notable improvement on the 7% fall experienced a year ago. 31 UK Mothercare stores have already closed  this year, with another 19 expected to follow.
DOWN (but improving): Findel, the group whose brands include Kitbag, Kleeneze and Express Gifts, turnaround plan is making progress - although the company advised that it was cautious about the remainder of the year. Sales for the six months to September 28 rose 8.1% to £275.1 million and pre-tax losses reduced from £5.6 million in 2011 to £4.6 million this year. Sales at the Express Gifts division performed best, with an 18.1% increase to £110.1 million. In contrast, Kleeneze sales fell by 7.1% to £24.4 million.
DOWN (but improving): New Look has advised that its recovery plan is showing early signs of progress, with some sales growth in recent trading due to a reduction in discounted sales. As a result, despite posting a 3.1% fall in underlying sales for the first half of 2012 and warning it needs to renegotiate its finances within the next 18 months, the retailer's EBITDA increased by 25.2% to £86.9 million.
DOWN: Thomas Cook, the World's oldest travel company, has announced that its full year losses increased to £590 million from a loss of £518 million last year. The travel firm, which was “Official Provider of Short Breaks” for the Olympics, blamed the loss on marketing and licensing costs for package deals combined with poor sales. However, new boss Harriet Green said she believed the "unacceptable" losses could be reversed and announced a further £100 million of cost-cutting measures - and warned of more to come.
DOWN Fitch ratings agency has downgraded both Sony and Panasonic's credit ratings to junk status due to their weak balance sheets and declining position in the global electronics sector against competitors Apple and Samsung. Panasonic's credit rating was reduced by two ranks to BB, while Sony was downgraded by three ranks to BB-.
Down: Lamprell, the oil-rig maker, has issued its fifth profit warning since May, warning that it now expects to make a significantly greater loss of $105 million in 2012, compared with a loss of between $12 million and $17 million it anticipated in its third warning in July. The company blames delays to contracts as the primary cause of its continuing problems, including a loss of $25 million on its Caspian Sea jack-up project and late delivery penalties on a $320 million order for two vessels for Fred Olsen for installing offshore wind turbines.
DOWN: North Midland Construction has issued a profit warning to advise that both its profit and revenue will be slightly below that of the previous year, and has blamed the slowdown in the UK and construction industry due to public spending cutbacks. In the period from 1 July to 30 September, the company recorded a small pre-tax profit on revenue of £38 million.The firm’s highways and utilities divisions have been the worst affected.
DOWN: Halfords has announced that it has experienced a substantial 23.4% drop to its first-half pre-tax profits to £41.9 million in the 26 weeks to September 28th 2012. Despite a surge of nearly 15% in the number of cycles it sold in the second quarter (the Bradley Wiggins effect), Halfords retail like-for-like sales fell by 1.9 % overall in the 26 weeks to September. In contrast, Halford's Autocentres reported a total sales increase of 17.2% to £62.6 million, with 10.8% like-for-like growth.
DOWN. . .and in administration: Comet, Burdens, Walmsleys (again), Manor Furniture, Harley Medical Group, Hedon Salads, MWB Group Holdings (owner of Malmaison Hotels and Hotel du Vin), Paramount Foods, Patton Group, Brimar, Matrix Group, Waverley TBS, Rileys.

About this week's sponsor: Markel, the specialist trade credit insurer
Markel's trade credit division provides expert knowledge of commercial counterparty and country risk across a wide range of countries and trade sectors. The team can provide global solutions as well as tailor policies for specific credit risks, markets and contingencies.
The key benefits for clients include balance sheet/cash flow protection; improved terms for bank financing facilities; an effective alternative to letters of credit or other types of collateral; reduced need for bad debt reserves; increased potential for sales growth to new and existing buyers because credit is based on a firm foundation; and risk transfer to satisfy capital adequacy requirements.
Policies are structured to provide certainty of cover and are underwritten with the aim of forming long-term partnerships with clients.

Our products
  • Commercial or commercial political risk trade credit policy
  • Contract replacement cover (energy industry only)
  • Time voyage/charter
  • Anticipatory credit
  • Captive reinsurance
  • Trade receivables securitisation
  • Vendor financing
  • Financial institution/factoring
  • Pre-credit/work in progress

Risks covered
  • Commercial perils
  • Insolvency
  • Default

Political risk perils
  • Currency inconvertibility
  • Government action
  • Import/export license cancellation
  • Public buyer default

Credit Insurance News Digests: Sponsorship
Sponsoring an issue of Credit Insurance News Digest is a great way to promote your company or brand to a committed audience of trade credit insurance professionals. If you are interested in sponsoring an issue go to for further information or call Sally on 0208 337 2171.

The next issue will be with you on our new date - Monday 17 December.
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