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Welcome to issue 30 of Credit Insurance News Digest, 11 November 2013. This issue is kindly sponsored by First Ram.


Index
  • Credit Insurance News
  • Credit Insurance Reports
  • Industry Events and Offers
  • Business Information: Recommended Reports and Business Shorts
  • UK Retailers: Who's UP/Who's DOWN
  • Career Opportunities

Credit Insurance News
In the five years to 2012, payouts on trade credit insurance claims rose by just over 100%. A report by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) has advised that between 2007 and 2012 the average claim paid on a trade credit policy increased by just over 100% (updated figure provided by the ABI to Credit Insurance News Digest - 06/11/13), whereas the average premium for a trade credit policy increased by 30%. The report also found that in 2012 policyholders with an insured turnover of less than £10 million accounted for 20% of GWP, compared to 28% in 2007, while policyholders with an insured turnover of more than £100 million accounted for 42% of GWP, compared to 36% in 2007. To view the ABI's news release go to https://www.abi.org.uk/News/Industry-data-updates/2013/06/Trade-credit-stats.

Enhanced competition and liberalised coverage have culminated in a buyer’s market for export credit insurance. PropertyCasualty360 has published an article, 'Export Trade Credit: A Buyer's Market', which advises that export trade credit insurance can be a company’s smartest buy - except when the insurer midway through the policy period cancels the limits of financial protection. "This was the unfortunate situation many policyholders fell into following the financial crisis that reared in 2008." However, now it’s a different story: "Perceiving a market opportunity, more than a dozen insurance carriers have entered the export trade credit business with a new non-cancelable limit policy. And the three insurers providing the cancelable product — Euler Hermes, Atradius and Coface — have added a non-cancelable financial limit solution to their line-up. Scott Ettien, senior vice president, trade credit and political risk at Willis, commented: “It is a very soft market right now, with many new insurer entrants", and added: “Policies can be customized to buyer needs. Consequently, we’re seeing much higher volumes of business.” To view the full article go to http://www.propertycasualty360.com/2013/11/01/export-trade-credit-a-buyers-market?utm_source=CreditInsuranceNewsUK&utm_medium=eNL&utm_campaign=PC360_LinkBuilding.

Coface finds that late payment is now a greater threat than insolvent customers. Coface has advised that late payment has overtaken insolvency as the major reason for UK claims notifications in the first nine months of 2013. To the end of September 2013, Coface received claims notifications from almost 590 of its UK credit insurance clients. Of these, 60% were made because of a customer’s protracted default and 40% because of customer insolvency. During the same period in 2012, only 33% of claims notifications received were the result of protracted default and 67% received were due to insolvency. The average protracted default claim notification received by Coface UK in quarter 3 was just under £25,000. Andrew Share, Director of Information, Claims and Collections at Coface UK, said: “Low interest rates and favourable credit conditions mean that businesses are able to survive, although many are just treading water unable to grow or invest. In this context it’s not actually surprising that the percentage of claim notifications made to Coface UK due to late payment has almost doubled." To view Coface's news release go to http://www.cofaceuk.com/CofacePortal/UK/en_EN/pages/home/who-we-are/news?news=131106.

Aon's Susan Ross explores the UK export challenge. TFR (Trade & Forfaiting Review) has published an article, 'The UK Export Challenge', in which Aon's Susan Ross argues that encouraging suppliers, clients and customers to export is "more than altruistic". Susan cites recent research commissioned by UKTI which shows that companies that begin exporting show a 30% increase in profitability, and are less likely to become insolvent than purely domestic firms. However, to help reach UK Prime Minister David Cameron's a goal of encouraging another 100,000 companies to begin exporting, UK companies need better information from the financial services industry and information about customer creditworthiness; Susan explores some of the steps that need to be taken to help this become a reality. To view the full article go to http://www.tfreview.com/opinion/risk/would-be-uk-exporters-need-more-support-their-financial-services-providers-says-susan-r.(Subscription required). A copy is also available on Aon's website http://www.thehub-aon.co.uk/media-centre/news/432.

New credit insurance initiatives promote credit insurance as a partnership. GTR has published an article, 'Trade Credit Insurance: Taking some skin in the game', which describes the bad press that the industry received during the height of the recession and looks at some of the new initiatives - such as non-cancelable cover and excess of loss products - which are becoming more prevalent and offer a greater degree of partnership with policyholders. The article also names some of the new entrants to the market who are taking on the ‘big three’ of Euler Hermes, Coface and Atradius, and describes the role of credit software providers like Company Watch and Tinubu Square, who are focusing on helping B2B companies get a better handle on their credit management. Nevertheless, there are more than 3500 fewer policies in the UK market (particularly SMEs) and the total premium spend remains relatively static. As Tim Smith, leader of Marsh’s trade credit practice in Europe, commented: "there is pressure nevertheless on the industry to restore trust in the product." To view the article on GTR's website go to http://www.gtreview.com/global-trade-review-magazine/2013/November/Trade-credit-insurance-Taking-some-skin-in-the-game_11282/. (Subscription required, with free 7 day trials available).

Trade Credit Insurance: A Competitive Advantage for Manufacturers. IndustryWeek has published an article, 'Trade Credit Insurance: A Competitive Advantage for Manufacturers', in which Jochen Duemler, CEO, Euler Hermes Americas Region, provides an overview of trade credit insurance and the benefits it provides. He concludes by assessing other ways to hedge receivables, including letters of credits, "which can be quite expensive", self-insurance (no protection against catastrophic, unexpected losses) and factoring (lost client relationship, factoring discount can be a significant burden) and comments that trade credit insurance can offer companies a strategic and competitive advantage. To view the article go to http://www.industryweek.com/cost-management-amp-bpm/trade-credit-insurance-competitive-advantage-manufacturers. (Free registration required).

Survey finds that only 14% of food processing firms credit insure, while 18% 'do nothing'.The Economic Voice has published an article, 'Food Processing Industry Counts The Cost Of Horsemeat Scandal', which advises that a recent survey by Euler Hermes in partnership with Food Processing magazine found that two thirds of Food Processing firms said that they are currently being paid late, while 18% are being paid more than 30-days later than they were 12 months previously. In addition, only 7% currently charge interest on overdue accounts: 29% did not know that they could, and 65% either thought that it was not worth the 'hassle' or that it would upset the customer relationship. The survey also found that tools used to manage credit vary: 43% now ask for money up front, 25% use a credit reference agency, 14% credit insure - and 32% no longer extend credit at all. Somewhat alarmingly, 18% ‘do nothing‘ – despite the fact that exactly half had experienced a customer going bust on them in the last 12 months. To view the full article go to http://www.economicvoice.com/food-processing-industry-counts-the-cost-of-horsemeat-scandal/.

Equinox Global suggests that top-up insurance is particularly pertinent in the run-up to Christmas. Equinox Global's latest newsletter has advised that while it is completely normal within the retail sector to have a regular annual pattern of three loss making quarters, then a bumper profit over the Christmas quarter which puts the whole year into the black, this end of year peak presents a challenge for credit insurers. "It is not untypical for a credit limit to more than double for the critical months before Christmas. Even financially sound buyers can request credit limits that may seem oversized compared with the size of their balance sheet." As a result, Equinox Global suggests that 'top-up' insurance can solve many seasonal credit insurance requirements. Furthermore, as there is no minimum time period, if a credit limit is only needed for three months it can be returned after that time.

Radio interview discusses trade credit insurance in the UAE. Following the recent summit in Dubai, Dubai Eye 103.8's Business Breakfast show recently recorded an interview with Keith Hutchison, Senior Associate at Clyde & Co, in which trade credit insurance: how it works, its benefits and its potential in the UAE is discussed. The bespoke nature of the products offered by credit insurers is described and the interview also stresses that credit insurance is available for SMEs as well as for global players. To listen to the recording go to https://audioboo.fm/boos/1706648-clyde-co-05-11-2013.

InfolinkGazette research finds that the average loss of an unsecured creditor following a liquidation is £43,000. InfolinkGazette has announced two new initiatives: the addition of Marketing Bureau information to lists of Unsecured Creditors and the enhancement of full Business Information Reports, with Credit Score, Rating and Credit Limit Recommendations. Greg Connell, Managing Director, commented: “the unsecured creditors of company liquidations are racking up colossal losses; the average loss per unsecured creditor of £43,000 frequently jeopardising the financial stability of the creditors themselves, making them 3.6 times more likely to fail than the national average." InfolinkGazette provides unsecured creditor information to risk management professionals who use this information to engage with unsecured creditors to deliver solutions that help mitigate against trade credit losses. To view InfolinkGazette's press release go to http://www.infolinkgazette.co.uk/?pid=6.

Holding course: Euler Hermes' nine-month results. Euler Hermes has advised that its revenues rose by 3.8% year-on-year to €1.86 billion (+ 4.9% at constant exchange rates), while its operating income and net income were 'solid' at €334.4 million (down €22 million compared to last year) and €221.4 million respectively. Wilfried Verstraete, chairman of the Euler Hermes board of management, commented: "Euler Hermes remains on course to deliver solid results in 2013 and is on track with previous guidance. . . As in 2012 and 2013, Euler Hermes expects to drive its growth primarily from outside Europe." To view Euler Hermes' news release go to http://www.eulerhermes.com/mediacenter/news/Pages/Q3-2013-financial-results.aspx.

Equinox Global adds 3 new syndicates to its panel and increases capacity by more than 40%. Equinox Global has announced that it has increased its available capacity to underwrite from $35 million to $50 million, effective 1st November 2013, and welcomes three new syndicates, managed by Barbican, Chaucer and Canopius, to its panel. The new members of Equinox Global′s carrier panel join Aspen, Beazley, Pembroke and Jubilee. Aspen, Beazley and Pembroke have also increased their capacity for the 2013/2014 binder by an aggregate total of $6.5 million. To view Equinox Global's news release go to http://www.equinoxglobal.com/equinox_global_welcomes_3_new_syndicates.

Awards
Best Global Insurers Awards 2013. Congratulations to Credit Insurance News Digest readers at the following companies, all of whom were named winners in their category at Global Finance's recent 2013 Best Global Insurers awards. In the global insurers category the winners included: AIG (Best overall global insurer), Aon (Best global insurance broker) and Euler Hermes (Best global trade credit insurer). In the North American category the winners included AIG (Best overall insurer), Wells Fargo (Best insurance broker) and Zurich (Best political risk insurer). To view the full list of winners on Global Finance's website go to http://www.gfmag.com/tools/best-banks/12744-best-global-insurers-2013.html#axzz2jJg26csr.

Euler Hermes named best credit service provider in China. Euler Hermes was named best credit service provider in China at the 10th China International Credit and Risk Management Conference held in Beijing recently. It shares this year’s award with Sinosure. Fabrice Desnos, head of Euler Hermes in Asia Pacific commented: “Global GDP growth continues to be driven primarily by China, where there is an increasing awareness of the importance of credit risk management in achieving sustainable business growth . . . It is an honor to see our investment in services to this market recognized by this award.” To view Euler Hermes' full news release go to http://www.eulerhermes.com/mediacenter/news/Pages/Euler-Hermes-best-credit-service-provider-in-China.aspx.



Credit Insurance Reports
Atradius Collections survey finds significant regional variances in what businesses consider important from collections agencies. Atradius' Global Collections Review Americas and Asia-Pacific found that while 44% of the organisations surveyed have used a debt collection agency to collect overdue invoices, most companies still prefer performing the collections themselves. "Businesses want to maintain a good relationship with their customers and the prevailing perception is that this is better achieved if the collection remains in their hands." This is especially the case in India where a good relationship with the customer is highly valued." The Review also found that the cost of engaging a collections agency was also noted by most respondents as an important consideration, especially in Europe, while in the Americas (most notably Canada and the U.S.) the reputation of the collection agency is regarded as more important than the success rate or price. To view the full report go to http://www.atradiuscollections.com/global/press/.
Atradius has also posted a clip on YouTube in which Managing director of Atradius Collections, Raymond van der Loos, introduces the Global Collections Review APAC and Americas 2013 and talks about the use of debt collections agencies. To view go to http://youtu.be/dYHS3c5xp0Q.

Ten rules which can make trading with Polish buyers successful. Atradius has published a new report, 'Trade successfully with Poland: Ten important principles', which defines ten rules which can make trading with Polish buyers successful. Atradius’ country manager for Poland, Pawel Szczepankowski, concluded: "The Polish market is dominated by small and medium sized enterprises, many of which do not publish their financial results despite the legal obligation to do so. The scandal of Amber Gold shows only too well what can happen: it continued to trade despite being blacklisted by Poland’s Financial Supervision Authority, and collapsed in 2012 owing small investors an estimated 163 million zloty . . . " To view the full report go to http://www.atradius.co.uk/images/stories/CountryReports/Trade_successfully_with_Poland_EN.pdf.
Atradius has also recorded a webinar in which a panel of experts on Poland’s economy, business culture and law cover the opportunities and the logistics of trading in Poland in a lively debate. To listen to the recording go to http://global.atradius.com/poland-webinar.html?utm_campaign=tsw-2013,tsw-poland&utm_medium=banner&utm_source=atradius_uk&utm_content=carousel.

Coface UK has published 3 new video clips on its website. 'The role of risk management and how Coface can support you' provides an introduction to credit insurance and Coface by Frederic Bourgeois, Managing Director of Coface UK and Ireland, and Grant Williams, Risk Underwriting Director of Coface UK and Ireland. A second clip shows some of the highlights of Coface's Country Risk Conference, as well as information from Grant Williams about the opportunities for UK exporters and how Coface can support them. The third clip explores the importance of business information in evaluating new market opportunities. To view the clips go to http://www.cofaceuk.com/CofacePortal/UK/en_EN/pages/home/who-you-are/client.

Atradius warns that some Chinese sectors are facing trouble ahead. Atradius has published its latest Country report on China which advises that, despite lower growth rates (7.3% predicted in 2014), the Chinese economy remains resilient. However, some sectors are facing troubles and, while larger state-owned companies are usually financially healthy, Atradius advises that more caution is recommended when dealing with small and medium-sized private businesses, as many of them - even those active in well-performing industries - often suffer from limited financing facilities. The construction (and construction materials) metals, steel, paper and textiles sectors have the poorest outlook. To view Atradius' report go to http://www.atradius.co.uk/creditmanagementknowledge/publications/latestreleases.html.

Atradius' Netherlands Country Report November finds that from January to September 2013 business insolvencies increased by more then 10%. Atradius' latest Country Report on the Netherlands advises that, according to Statistics Netherlands (CBS), the Dutch economy shrank 1.7 % year-on-year in Q2 of 2013 after a 1.8 % contraction in Q1. Overall, IHS Global Insight expects the Dutch economy to shrink 1.1 % this year, followed by a modest rebound of 0.7% in 2014. In addition, the level of insolvencies will continue to reflect the weak economy, with the number of bankruptcies expected to remain high for the foreseeable future. Businesses in the construction sector (especially in the residential and non-residential property subsectors), metals and non-food retail sectors have been the worst affected. To view Atradius' report go to http://www.atradius.co.uk/creditmanagementknowledge/publications/latestreleases.html.



Industry Events and Offers
6th Annual Nordic Region Trade & Export Finance Conference, 20-21 November 2013.
Bringing together senior representatives from the Nordic and wider European corporate, banking, insurance and financial service sectors, GTR’s 6th Annual Nordic Region Trade & Export Finance Conference will return to Gothenburg this November. Recognised as one of the trade finance market’s most forward-thinking regions, and with Gothenburg acting as one of its key trade hubs, the event is well placed to provide timely insight on key regional concerns as well as taking stock of the most pressing issues brought to the fore following an uncertain period for the travelling. As the only trade and export finance-focused conference for the Nordics, delegates will be able to save days of travelling time between meetings by networking with key industry players all in one place on one day. For more information click here. A 15% discount is available for Credit Insurance News Digest readers, please quote CIN15.

Insuring Export Credit & Political Risk Brazil, 4-5 December 2013, São Paulo Brazil.
Building upon the success of our highly acclaimed annual London convention, Insuring Export Credit & Political Risk Brazil will bring together a first class line up of speakers, for two days of critical analysis, stimulating debate and in-depth discussion on how this important market is developing and the role it will play in Latin American growth in the coming years. Confirmed speaker include: Edie Quintrell, MIGA ~ Keith Martin, AON BRAZIL ~ Marcelo Franco, ABGF ~ Dr Marc Aubain, WTO ~ Pedro Carrico, SBCE ~ Luciene Machado, BNDES ~ Daniel Fonseca, IDB ~ Rogerio Vergara, MAPFRE ~ Andreas Dobner, SWISS RE ~ Eric Brabenec, GECO ~ Jean Cardyn, EDC ~ Hugo Carson, AIG ~ Flavio Bertolossi, SACE. To view the latest agenda or to register crystalisedse visit: http://www.iiribcfinance.com/FKW52656CIN quoting VIP code: FKW52656CIN for a 10% discount.

Libya Trade & Infrastructure Finance Conference, 6 February 2014.
As the new Libya continues to overhaul its public institutions and private sector in preparation for full participation in the global economy, the international business community is increasingly taking note of the extensive opportunity set offered by this key North African market, related to both its potential as a hub for regional trade and the huge investment needed to renew the country’s ailing infrastructure. The Libya Trade & Infrastructure Finance Conference will present a crystallised perspective of the opportunities on offer, providing delegates with a contemporary assessment of the rewards and risks posed by this newly liberalised economy.Bringing high-level networking opportunities, cutting edge content and a host of expert speakers together under one roof, the Libya Trade & Infrastructure Finance Conference constitutes an essential gathering for all those from the international trade and investment sectors seeking to gain the inside track on the high growth potential of this exciting business destination. For more information click here. A 15% discount is available for Credit Insurance News Digest readers, please quote CIN15.

10th Annual India Trade & Export Finance Conference, 12 February 2014.
Now in its 10th year and recognised as the conference of choice for the region’s trade finance community, this much anticipated annual gathering looks set to welcome over 250 high-level business leaders keen to discuss the most pertinent issues affecting both domestic and international players.Enjoying participation from companies of all sizes from all manner of sectors, the conference is a must attend event for anyone looking to do business with one of the world’s most burgeoning economies. For more information click here. A 15% discount is available for Credit Insurance News Digest readers, please quote CIN15.

STECIS Trade Credit Insurance and Surety (BASIC & ADVANCED) Training Seminars, 10-11 April 2014 and 19-29 June 2014. The Hague, The Netherlands.
The STECIS training seminars are two-day events and are highly interactive. They cover technical and practical knowledge on Trade Credit Insurance and Surety Bonds, the theory of underwriting, in-depth analysis of industry developments, the terminology and the current market. In addition, participants are asked to review case studies. The BASIC training seminars are on 10 -11 April 2014 and are open to participants with up to 3 years of work experience. The ADVANCED training seminars are set for 19- 20 June 2014 and are suited to participants who have attended the basic training seminars and/or have at least 4 years of work experience. 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, please visit the website www.stecis.org or contact STECIS by sending an e-mail to info@stecis.org or call +31 20 528 5170.



Business Information: Recommended Reports and Business Shorts
Levels of ‘Critical’ financial distress fall for UK consumer facing businesses, but rise for many service industries. According to the latest Begbies Traynor Red Flag Alert research for Q3 2013, levels of ‘Critical’ financial distress among UK businesses continued to fall - albeit at a slower rate. Across all sectors, UK businesses experiencing ‘Critical’ financial problems reduced 2% from 3,001 in Q2 2013 to 2,951 in Q3 2013, supported by significant improvements in the UK’s consumer-facing industries including Bars & Restaurants, Hotels, Food Retailing and General Retail, which all experienced marked reductions in businesses suffering ‘Critical’ distress, falling 30%, 21%, 16% and 8% respectively. However, worryingly, this positive trend masks a declining trend within the UK’s vital service industries, with Professional Services, Financial Services and Support Services all experiencing significant increases in ‘Critical’ distress levels during the last three months, rising 34%, 28% and 9% respectively. These increases bring the total number of services businesses suffering ‘Critical’ distress up to 330, of which 83% are SMEs. To view Begbies Traynor's news release go to http://www.begbies-traynorgroup.com/default/news/13-10-28/uk_recovery_sustained_by_burgeoning_consumer_spending.aspx.

Experian's latest UK Business Insolvency Index reveals that year-on-year business insolvency rates fell for the fifth consecutive month. Regionally, the North East saw a particularly sharp fall in insolvencies – from 0.32% in September 2012 to 0.12% in September 2013 - meaning that there has been no rise in its rate since April this year. The next most improved region was Yorkshire with a fall from 0.12% to 0.09%. However, whilst most regions recorded falling or level insolvency figures, there was a slight rise in the East of England which saw its rate up to 0.10% from 0.07% last year. Sector-wise, the most significant drop was in the Building & Construction industry, with its rate dropping from 0.14% to 0.11% – the eleventh month it has fallen year-on year. Banking and Financial Services also continued a positive trend. To view Experian's news release go to http://press.experian.com/United-Kingdom/Press-Release/insolvency-rate-falls-for-fifth-consecutive-month.aspx.

Businesses leading Britain add £45 billion of revenue in four years as medium sized businesses drive the recovery. According to new research, 'Businesses Leading Britain', from Deloitte, Britain’s 1,000 fastest growing medium-sized businesses have collectively increased revenues by £45 billion in the past four years: the top 50 of this group grew at a rate 73 times faster than the national average. The report also provides some evidence of rebalancing in the British economy, but also the continued success for some traditionally strong industries. Technology, Media and Telecoms companies account for 8% of the 1,000 but 16% of the top 50, whilst Healthcare & Life Sciences account for 12% of the top 50 and 5% overall. The sectors with the largest proportion of companies are consumer business (33% of 1,000, 20% of top 50) and business & professional services (18% and 24%). To view Deloitte's news release go to http://www.deloitte.com/view/en_GB/uk/market-insights/uk-futures/f6ae9a1ef9822410VgnVCM3000003456f70aRCRD.htm.

Health of UK retail gets a pick-me-up. The health of UK retail has shown some signs of improvement over the past quarter. Following its quarterly meeting in October, the KPMG/Ipsos Retail Think Tank (RTT) upgraded its Retail Health Index to 79 and its panel of retail experts forecasted that this could improve to 81 in quarter four. This would not only mark the highest level since Quarter Three 2011, but the strongest quarter-on-quarter leap for four years. The RTT noted that many of the high street retailers left standing appear to have stabilised their businesses – with the threat of insolvencies nowhere near the levels experienced over the previous 18 months To view KPMG's news release go to http://www.kpmg.com/UK/en/IssuesAndInsights/ArticlesPublications/NewsReleases/Pages/Health-of-UK-retail-gets-a-pick-me-up.aspx.

UK set to be fastest growing western economy with 1.3% growth forecast for Q4. According to the latest ICAEW/Grant Thornton UK Business Confidence Monitor (BCM), the UK economy will grow by 1.3% in the fourth quarter of 2014 as confidence among businesses in the UK continues to increase. There are also tentative signs that the shape of the recovery is becoming both business and consumer led,     with companies expecting growth in exports and business investment in next year. Michael Izza, chief executive of ICAEW, said: “This quarter’s report shows that the UK economic recovery is well underway. If it continues at this rate, the UK economy will be one of the fastest growing economies in the western world going into 2014." To view Grant Thornton's news release go to http://www.grant-thornton.co.uk/en/Media-Centre/News/2013/UK-set-to-be-fastest-growing-western-economy-with-13-growth-forecast-for-Q4/.

Conditions for listed businesses improve but outlook clouded by late spike in profit warnings not seen since financial crisis. According to Ernst & Young’s latest Profit Warnings report, UK quoted companies issued nearly 20% fewer profit warnings in the third quarter of 2013 compared to the same period last year, but there was a sting in the tail for UK plc as a more unsettled global economy shook confidence, leading warnings to rise to their highest level in September since the height of the financial crisis. Adding to the mixed outlook, company size divided fortunes in Q3 - as it has throughout 2013 – with profit warnings from companies with a turnover under £200 million rising 6% in the first three quarters of 2013 compared to the same period of 2012. This is in sharp contrast to a 30% fall in profit warnings from larger companies. To view Ernst & Young's news release go to http://www.ey.com/UK/en/Newsroom/News-releases/13-10-21---Conditions-for-listed-businesses-improve-but-outlook-clouded-by-late-spike-in-profit-warnings. A link to the full report is available.

PwC's analysis of the latest national corporate insolvency statistics finds the number of company failures has decreased again. 4,717 companies entered insolvency in the third quarter of 2013 - a decrease of 7.6% on the second quarter of 2013 when 5103 businesses failed. Year on year the number of collapses has dropped by 2.9% (4856 businesses began insolvency proceedings in Q3 2012). Mike Jervis, business recovery partner at PwC, commented: "The insolvency statistics show that larger corporate failures are now back to the levels we last saw around 2004, when the economy was growing at a faster rate than today. There is more optimism amongst parties who either run or who are looking to invest in distressed companies and avoiding formal insolvency is the new norm." To view PWC's news release go to http://pwc.blogs.com/press_room/2013/11/corporate-failures-at-lowest-levels-since-2004-as-lenders-become-more-flexible-.html.

Exports strong and business confidence at six-year high, according to BCC/DHL report. According to the latest BCC/DHL Trade Confidence Index which surveyed around 2,200 exporting firms, UK export orders remain close to the record high levels seen in Q2, while turnover confidence among exporters is now at the highest level since 2007 (69%). Nearly half of exporters (46%) said their export sales increased in Q3 2013, compared to 8% who said that they decreased. John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), commented: “UK exporters are more optimistic than ever about their prospects, with confidence higher than it has been since before the economic crisis. Exports have remained strong, and even more exporting firms are looking to take on new staff . . . Our bullish exporters give us even more reason to believe that the economy is turning a corner, and that full-year growth is likely to be stronger than expected." To view the BCC's news release go to http://www.britishchambers.org.uk/press-office/press-releases/exports-strong-and-business-confidence-at-six-year-high,-according-to-bcc/dhl-report.html.



UK Retailers: Who's UP/Who's DOWN
UP: Primark's latest results show that the cheap and cheerful clothes retailer has continued to see outstanding growth. For the year to September, revenues rose by 22% to £4.3 billion and underlying profits rose by 44% to £514 million. Interestingly, this has been achieved without Primark selling via the internet (with no plans to do so) - preferring to concentrate on bricks and mortar new store openings.
UP: Shop Direct, the online department store that trades as Littlewoods, Very and isme, has reported its first profits for 10 years. For the year to June 30, the retailer reported a pre-tax profit of £6.6 million, compared to a loss of £57.7 million the previous year. The change of fortune was primarily due to the success of newer brands Very.co.uk and isme.co.uk which were able to offset the much weaker performing more established brands.
UP: Halford's recently announced that its three-year turnaround plan seems to be working. For the six months to 27 September, the bike and car parts retailer posted a 5.2% increase (to £44.6 million)  to its pre-tax profits, while its total sales increased by 7.7 % to £490.6 million. Halfords advised that the hot Summer and the continued interest among its customers in cycling helped boost results.
IMPROVING: Marks and Spencer has advised that its transformation is "on track" - despite its half year profits showing that underlying sales of clothing and homewares slipped back for the ninth consecutive quarter. On the positive side, group sales rose to £4.9 billion (up 4%) - compared to £4.7 billion in the first half of 2012  - driven by a strong performance in Food, International and M&S.com. On the negative side, underlying group operating profit was down 9.1% - to £320.7 million compared to £352.9 million last half year - although this was as a result of a higher level of planned for additional costs which impacted short-term results.
DOWN: Debenhams. Department store group Debenhams has reported a 2.7% drop to £154 million in its full-year profits to 31 August - the first fall for five years. The retailer described trading conditions as 'very difficult'. Sales rose 2.5% to £2.78 billion, with like-for-like sales increasing by 2%. However, online sales - up by 46.2% to £366 million (13.2% of total sales) - performed well.
DOWN: Barratts, the shoe retailer, has been reported by The Sunday Times as being in danger of entering administration - for the second time in two years - and is urgently seeking a £3 million loan to purchase stock for the Christmas period. Following this news, a Drapers article reported that many of Barratts suppliers are "demanding clarity" over Barratts finances, and that unsecured creditors will be viewing the current situation with particular trepidation.
DOWN: Blockbuster. Gordon Brothers, the new owners of the UK offshoot of the Blockbuster chain, has announced that the business has entered administration for a second time this year (the first occasion was in January and resulted in the sale to Gordon Brothers). Although Gordon Brothers had tried to turn around the chain by restructuring, cost-cutting and investment, it advised that the months since the acquisition had coincided with a period of poor trading performance across both rental and retail sales. It had also attempted to introduce a digital service, but was unable to reach a licensing agreement with the U.S. parent company.



Career Opportunities
Political Risk Underwriter, London. To £75,000 + Benefits.
Working for a highly respected company market insurer based in the City, you'll be responsible for taking submissions from brokers, assessing the risk including carrying out sovereignty / client / exposure analysis using a number of tools, accepting or declining risks depending on certain parameters. Agreeing pricing for these risks whilst maintaining excellent relationships with the broking community. Experience considered could be Broking or Underwriting of Political Risk or Structured Credit policies, alternatively experience within a banking environment in structured credit, export finance, project finance or syndicated loans. For more information and/or to apply please contact Kerren Leach on 07940 403046 or email kerren.leach@reedglobal.com. (Please mention Credit Insurance News Digest).

Trade Credit Underwriter, London. To £80,000 + Benefits.
Working for a medium sized and dynamic trade credit team in the City who have the ability to be truly flexible when catering to client requirements. They focus on writing quality business and expect their underwriters to take a responsible attitude when it comes to evaluating, structuring and writing risk. Although you will be supported by Risk Underwriters, the ability to view a risk from their perspective, or having worked as a risk underwriter would be beneficial. Various backgrounds will be considered; Risk Underwriting, Commercial Underwriting with knowledge of Risk, Broking, etc. The key thing for this client is that you have the aptitude to work in this autonomous environment. For more information and/or to apply please contact Kerren Leach on 07940 403046 or email kerren.leach@reedglobal.com. (Please mention Credit Insurance News Digest).

Corporate Insurance Branch Director (Redhill, UK). Competitive salary + 25 days holiday, pension & benefits package.
An exciting opportunity has arisen at Aon Plc for a ­­­Branch Director in our Corporate team based in our Redhill offices. The primary responsibilities of the role: are to develop and lead a Commercial Insurance Branch and build a profitable, sustainable growing business with a high profile and great reputation; to deliver excellence in client relationship management, retention and growth of existing accounts and robust client account development plans; to ensure clients are serviced in a cost effective manner and to deliver a fully compliant and regulatory robust service to all clients and to work with the business development teams to achieve revenue growth through new/new business opportunities. Prospective candidates skills and qualifications will ideally include: ACII/FCII or equivalent, a thorough understanding of client business and risk issues and insurance experience with proven expertise in Client relationship management with mid-market and large corporate clients. To view the full job description go to https://aonuk.taleo.net/careersection/2/jobdetail.ftl?lang=en_GB&job=107620. (Please mention Credit Insurance News Digest).

Risk Underwriter - City - c£50,000 plus benefits/bonus - Ref: KL/211.
Ideally you will have 3-5 years risk underwriting experienced gained with the London Credit Insurance market. It would be useful if you had some export credit underwriting experience also, but not essential for the role. This is an exciting time for this first class underwriting agency and an opportunity for you to be going places with them. They have a strong customer centric approach to business which reflects in the high level of customer satisfaction and repeat business that they enjoy. Their set-up affords an innovative approach, a quick and efficient service and value for money. This is a super opportunity for the right candidate. For more information email Kristina@novasearch.co.uk or call 07931-371990 or 0208-3937413. (Please mention Credit Insurance News Digest).

Senior Credit Insurance Account Handler (Ref: DSCJ602), London, Kent. £27,000-£33,000 plus benefits.
A prestigious broker in the London area is seeking a professional candidate who has previous credit insurance experience. Responsibilities will include consultation on credit insurance, claims, probable losses, credit limits and policy issues, as well as assessing, adjusting and submitting claims to credit insurers – negotiation to settlement. The successful candidate will also meet with clients and insurers to discuss claims to achieve satisfactory settlement. This is a great company to work for with fantastic training, working environment and benefits. Only candidates who have previous specific experience of working within credit insurance will be considered. For more information contact Darren Stone Darren.stone@clarkjames.co.uk or call 01634 673156. (Please mention Credit Insurance News Digest).

Political Risk & Structured Credit Brokers, 1-7 years experience, Europe & Singapore.
Actively recruiting on behalf of the broking houses in London who are seeking experienced Political Risk brokers to join them at junior-mid level. Typically you'll be working with a mixed portfolio of banks, Traders and exporters covering all lines of political and single situation risks. Conversational or business level knowledge of another language (ideally German, Mandarin, French, Spanish, Portuguese) would be beneficial but is not essential. For more information and/or to apply please contact Kerren Leach on 07940 403046 or email kerren.leach@reedglobal.com. (Please mention Credit Insurance News Digest).

Key Account Director. £Excellent +bonus. London.
Major credit insurer is looking for an account director to manage relationships with some of the industry's most prestigious clients. Managing these clients relationships through the renewal process as well as during the term of the policy. Engaging with global stakeholders to ensure smooth renewal and re-tender. Experience broking or underwriting at a senior level essential. For more information and/or to apply please contact Kerren Leach on 07940 403046 or email kerren.leach@reedglobal.com. (Please mention Credit Insurance News Digest).

Credit Insurance Ratemaking Actuary sought by Northeast USA Insurer.
Credit insurance ratemaking actuary immediately sought by Northeast USA insurer. FCAS or ACAS with credit insurance experience preferred. Enterprise risk management expertise a plus. Apply to Ezra Penland Actuarial Recruitment at http://www.EzraPenland.com/propertycasualtyjobs, or email actuaries@EzraPenland.com and mention Position 56607, or call us at (800) 580-3972. (Please mention Credit Insurance News Digest).

New Appointments
Bluefin has appointed Stuart Grice as head of trade credit, with immediate effect. The appointment follows the retirement of Bluefin's MD of trade credit Terry Rees. Reporting to Howard Fryer, head of corporate division at the firm, Stuart will be responsible for managing the credit insurance team, focusing on service delivery across the existing client base as well as developing opportunities for further growth. Stuart previously spent over ten years at Euler Hermes.



About this issue's sponsor: First Ram
Established in 2006, First Ram enjoys a well founded reputation in the Credit Insurance market. With a growing portfolio of clients who demand first class support and advice in respect of UK & Export credit risks we span all trade sectors. The reach we have into our clients Financial function is unsurpassed and ensures the proper planning and execution of well thought out workable strategies that in all ways manage and mitigate credit risks; mostly but not always utilising a credit insurance product. For those that need real speciality together with a high level of expertise and experience or who would like to consider being part of the First Ram success story please call 01937 849 732 and speak to one of our team. Further information can be found on our website www.firstram.co.uk.



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