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Welcome to the December 2023 issue of Credit Management News Digest. Tinubu sponsors this month's issue.

 

Index

Late Payment & Business Distress

UK: Corporate Insolvencies

UK Economy

Global Economy & Trade

Events & Professional Development

Credit Insurance News Digest

About this month's sponsor: Tinubu

PLUS: Evaluating Credit Risk in the Face of Climate Challenges, by Weiling Lin, Risk Underwriting Manager - APAC, Tinubu and Martin Sheppard, Tinubu Risk Director.

Late Payment & Business Distress

UK small business owners sacrifice their salaries due to cash flow issues. According to new research from Xero, ongoing economic challenges have caused two in five (41%) of UK small business owners to sacrifice their salaries and one in three (34%) to use their personal funds to keep their businesses running. Xero's The Money Matters report found that economic fragility is causing half of small business owners to worry about their financial futures. Almost three-quarters (72%) of small business owners admitted experiencing cash flow issues in the past 12 months, with one in ten experiencing significant difficulties. Consequently, 24% of small business owners cannot pay their company bills and overheads, and 18% experience stalled revenue. However, the effects also trickle down to the personal lives of owners and operators. To read Xero's news release go to https://www.xero.com/uk/media-releases/uk-money-matters-report-cash-flow/.

Deep-rooted payment challenges in the Scottish construction sector​. A new survey conducted by the Construction Industry Collective Voice (CICV) has found that Scottish construction businesses continue to struggle with late payments, payment reductions, and unresolved disputes. Despite government and industry efforts to address financial challenges in the sector, the poll highlights that there is still a significant gap between purported initiatives and actual improvements in payment practices. Key findings revealed that 70% of those surveyed encountered delayed final payments 'occasionally' to 'very often', with 24% stating outstanding values over £100,000 creating cash flow issues. 63% faced unexplained payment reductions, and 43% had to write off disputed sums, with 47% reporting amounts between £10,000 and +£100,000. To read CICV's news release, with a link to the survey, go to https://cicvforum.co.uk/surveys-reveals-deep-rooted-payment-challenges-in-scottish-construction-sector/.

Punitive powers against late payment are ruled out "at this stage" for the UK's Small Business Commissioner (SBC). Earlier this year, the UK government invited stakeholder views regarding the SBC's performance, particularly the SBC'seffectiveness in improving commercial payment practices. Responses to the review showed that a substantial number of respondents said that the SBC has had a limited impact on business relationships due to insufficient resources or power. However, although some respondents suggested a statutory framework for payment times backed up with fines, the review felt that there was not a strong case for more punitive powers for the commissioner at this stage, "particularly given that one of the main reasons small businesses cited for not involving the Commissioner was a concern about maintaining relationships with the large businesses they supply." 
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/publication-of-the-prompt-payment-and-cash-flow-review/statutory-review-of-the-small-business-commissioner-response-to-views-and-evidence.

Licensed under the terms of Open Government. Licence v3.0.

The EU's new tightrope walk on the Late Payments RegulationTrade Finance Global (TFG) has published an article in which Deepesh Patel discusses the new, more stringent regulations proposed by the European Commission's suggested changes to the Late Payments Directive (LPD). This includes a non-derogable 30-day maximum payment term for business-to-business transactions, mandatory interest on late payments and a flat-fee compensation for recovery costs. The Commission's data suggests that these measures could save European businesses up to €2.5 billion annually in financial costs. However, the regulation's strict terms, while beneficial on paper, also raise questions about their practicality and the potential unintended consequences for the European business landscape. To read TFG's article go to https://www.tradefinanceglobal.com/posts/the-eus-new-tightrope-walk-on-the-late-payments-regulation/.

The number of 'Fast Payers' in the UK has increased by 25% in 2023. Good Business Pays has named 290 companies to be awarded its prestigious Fast Payer Award 2023, recognising those who have demonstrated the best payment performance to their suppliers over the past year. This year, the number of official Fast Payers has increased by almost 25%. Terry Corby, CEO of Good Business Pays, commented: "We are seeing a growing national movement towards ending the slow payment culture that has hampered small businesses in the UK for almost fifty years. The government is setting the example by banning bad payers from bidding for large public sector contracts, and the Regulations around payment reporting are being strengthened. The Labour Party has committed to further measures to tackle late payment if it becomes the next administration." To read Good Business Pays' news release go to https://goodbusinesspays.com/posts/290-companies-receive-fast-payer-award/.

France: Longer and more frequent payment delays, with small companies in the firing line. A new report by Coface on corporate payment behaviour in France reveals that more prolonged and frequent payment delays are impacting small companies. Coface notes that 82% of companies have recorded payment delays by their clients over the past 12 months, with the majority stating that late payments were occurring more frequently and for longer periods than last year. In addition, the deterioration in corporate payment habits is echoed in insolvency numbers, with an undisputed increase since the start of the year, which has even overshot pre-COVID levels. To read Coface's news release with a link to the full report go to https://www.coface.com/news-economy-and-insights/france-longer-and-more-frequent-payment-delays-with-small-companies-in-the-firing-line.

Nearly 20% of all live UK companies are at high risk of distress. Company Watch has reported that almost 20% (1,053,238) of all live UK companies currently sit in its Warning Area (and are therefore considered at high risk of distress), and there are 251,919 zombie companies in the UK (i.e. companies that earn just enough money to continue operating and re-pay the interest on their debt). With recent high interest rates, Company Watch warns that it is likely that many of these zombie companies will now be forced into liquidation in the early part of 2024. Overall, the real estate sector has seen the most significant increase in distress since October, with 3,660 companies entering Company Watch's Warning Area over the last two months. To see Company Watch's latest data go to https://www.companywatch.net/uk-financial-risk-indicators/.


 

​UK Corporate Insolvencies

Corporate insolvencies in England and Wales were 56.7% higher in October than pre-pandemic levels. The latest data from the Insolvency Service has found that corporate insolvencies in England and Wales increased by 17.6% in October 2023 to a total of 2,315 and increased by 18.5% compared to October 2022's figure of 1,954. This represents a 64.2% increase compared to October 2021 and is 56.7% higher than pre-pandemic levels in October 2019. Nicky Fisher, President of R3, commented: "Firms have been battling economic issues for three and a half years now, and corporate insolvency numbers are rising as more and more directors run out of options. The figures published today show that Creditors' Voluntary Liquidations and Administrations are at the highest levels we've seen in October in more than four years." To read R3's news release go to 
https://www.r3.org.uk/press-policy-and-research/news/.

The number of UK company insolvencies for 2023 now stands at 27,667 – a 28% increase compared to the same period in 2022. New data from Creditsafe has found that 2,722 companies in the UK became insolvent in November 2023 – a 6% increase compared to the previous month and a rise of 1% compared to the same month in 2022. 17% of insolvencies in November came from within the UK construction sector. According to Creditsafe, although the current economic challenges are pushing an increasing number of businesses into insolvency, the trends are still uneven. The total number of UK company insolvencies for 2023 now stands at 27,677 – a 28% increase compared to the same period in 2022 and an 80% increase compared to 2021. To read Creditsafe's news release go to https://www.creditsafe.com/gb/en/blog/reports/insolvencies.html.

​Insolvencies in the UK retail sector have surged by 56% in the past year. QBE's latest Trade credit report on the UK retail sector for Winter 2023 suggests that, after the impact of COVID-19, the spotlight is now shifting towards the increasing challenge of rising living costs, while inflationary pressures, high energy prices and ongoing disruptions in supply chains also challenge sales in the sector. The report notes that GlobalData's projections indicate that total retail sales for Q4 2023 are expected to grow 3.3%, notably lower than the robust 6.2% increase observed in the preceding quarter. In addition, according to figures from RPC, insolvencies in the sector have surged by 56% in the past year – the highest level in nearly a decade. Around 1,942 retailers went into administration in 2022-23, up from 1,243 in 2021-22. To read QBE's report go to https://qbeeurope.com/document-library/products/trade-credit/trade-credit-report-retail-winter-2023/?token=542349.

UK Economy

UK monthly GDP fell by 0.3% in October 2023. The Office for National Statistics has reported that its latest data estimates that monthly GDP fell by 0.3% in October 2023, following growth of 0.2% in September 2023. Output in all three main sectors  services, manufacturing and construction was in negative territory: Services output, which fell by 0.2% in October 2023, was the main contributor to the fall in growth in GDP; Production output fell by 0.8% in October 2023, driven by widespread declines in manufacturing; and the construction sector fell by 0.5%. GDP is estimated to have shown no growth in the three months to October compared with the three months leading up to July 2023. Services output grew by 0.1%, production output fell by 0.7%, and construction fell by 0.3%. To read the ONS' news release go to https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/grossdomesticproductgdp/bulletins/gdpmonthlyestimateuk/latest.

Licensed under the terms of Open Government. Licence v3.0.

The UK is set to close 2023 with inflation just below 5% and avoid a recession. According to PwC's latest UK Economic Outlook, the UK economy is likely to avoid a recession, growing by around 0.5% in 2023 and 2024. This is an improvement over PwC's April Economic Outlook prediction of 0.1% growth for 2023. However, there are regional differences in the economic outlook, with London (0.8% growth) and Northern Ireland (0.6%) set to lead the way for 2023. Meanwhile, the West Midlands (0.2%), East Midland (0.3%) and Scotland (0.3%) will lag behind. Inflation is expected to end the year at around 4.6% – higher than predicted last publication (3.5%) but comfortably below the government's target of 5.4% for the fourth quarter of 2023. A return to a 2% inflation target is unlikely until 2025. To read PwC's news release go to https://www.pwc.co.uk/press-room/press-releases/ukeo-november-2023.html.

The UK economy looks set to continue expanding until the end of 2025, but growth will remain very sluggish. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has marginally upgraded its 2023 and 2024 GDP forecast but lowered the outlook for 2025, as economic growth for all three years flatlines. A growth rate of 0.6% is now expected for the whole of 2023, dropping to 0.4% in 2024 and nudging up only slightly to 0.6% in 2025. The BCC notes that although ONS revisions have revealed the economy recovered from the pandemic much faster than originally estimated, the momentum has been lost, and the UK is "stuck in a rut". While the start of 2023 turned out better than expected, the year's second half has been lacklustre. To read the BCC's news release go to https://www.britishchambers.org.uk/news/2023/12/bcc-economic-forecast-economic-growth-stuck-in-a-rut/.

Scotland will avoid recession despite flat economic performance, says the EY ITEM Club. According to the EY ITEM Club Scottish Autumn forecast, resilient consumer spending may have helped the Scottish economy avoid a recession, but economic growth has been flat since Q2 of 2022 and will remain so into 2024. However, although Scotland's economic prospects are better for 2025 and 2026, growth will remain low in historical terms and is expected to lag the UK as a whole. EY Scotland Managing Partner Ally Scott said: "This year has seen a similar pattern to 2022, with periods of growth punctuated with points of decline. The net result is that while Scotland's economy has avoided a technical recession so far this year – with a more resilient performance than expectations suggested – it was nevertheless slightly smaller at the end of Q2 2023 than it was a year earlier." To read EY's news release go to https://www.ey.com/en_uk/news/2023/11/scotland-to-avoid-recession-despite-flat-economy.

Inflation and insolvencies cloud the UK's outlook. Allianz Trade has advised that the UK economy looks likely to avoid recession this year, but inflation, higher financing costs, and a sharp rise in insolvencies continue to weigh heavily on UK businesses. The UK is heading towards two years of almost zero growth (+0.3% in 2023 and +0.6% in 2024). In addition, the weakening resilience of some large firms threatens to create a domino effect, boosting the number of insolvencies amongst smaller firms. Allianz Trade notes that the UK is already seeing a sharp acceleration of business insolvencies and warns that it expects business insolvencies to increase by 16% this year and 5% next – staying around 30% above pre-pandemic levels until 2025. All sectors have now significantly surpassed 2019 insolvency levels. To read Allianz Trade's news release go to https://www.allianz-trade.com/en_GB/insights/economic-research/inflation-and-insolvencies-cloud-uk-outlook.html.

The US and UK economies are set to stagnate in H1 2024. Atradius Collections' Economic Update November 2023 reports that the UK's economy flat-lined in Q3 2023 compared to Q2, continuing the trend of sluggish economic growth over the past two years. Looking ahead, GDP will likely remain weak in 2024 amid sustained high interest rates and little policy support ahead of the next general election. Consequently, Atradius expects only 0.4% growth next year, following "a meagre" 0.6% in 2023. Global growth will also stay restrained at 2.0% in 2024, depressed by the slowdown in the US economy amid tight fiscal and monetary policies. To read Atradius' Update go to https://atradiuscollections.com/global/reports/economic-update-november-2023.html.

Three in ten UK retail small businesses predict a festive downturn this year. The latest quarterly Business Barometer study by Novuna Business Finance, which has tracked small business growth outlook every quarter over the last decade, has reported that small business owners in the UK retail sector have a "less than euphoric" trading outlook for the festive period, with 31% predicting a quieter period for sales. In addition, 19% of small businesses in the hospitality sector foresee a downturn in trading in the run-up to Christmas. The latest data also reveals that 89% of small businesses continue to feel the impact of the cost-of-living crisis. This figure is only marginally down on this time last year (92%). To read Novuna's news release go to https://www.novuna.co.uk/news-and-insights/business-finance/three-in-10-retail-small-businesses-predict-festive-downturn-this-year/.

Black Friday fails to rally UK shoppers. According to BDO's High Street Sales Tracker, total like-for-like (LFL) sales in November fell by 0.3% compared to last year’s figures. The bleak results cast further gloom over retail in the important festive period. Although the month started positively, with LFL sales increasing by +4.7% in week one, this was followed by falling sales in weeks two, three and four despite heavy discounting from retailers becoming more prevalent. Online sales were particularly poor throughout the month and down by -0.2% last year. While in-store LFL sales grew, this was not enough to offset the negative online performance. The fashion sector suffered the greatest drop in November. Total sales declined sharply by -3.6% from a robust base of +8.5% last year. To read BDO's news release go to https://www.bdo.co.uk/en-gb/news/2023/black-friday-fails-to-rally-uk-shoppers-as-a-bleak-november-casts-a-shadow-on-retails-golden-quarter.
 

49% of UK businesses say current customs checks and declarations are a barrier to exporting. A survey of UK businesses by the BCC has shown that customs checks, tariffs and regulation are the top three barriers to exporting. The research also found that transportation costs (37%), volatile exchange rates (31%), political and economic uncertainty (27%) and rules of origin requirements (23%) were other obstructions. The findings come as the Office For Budget Responsibility's latest forecast said the UK's trade volumes were expected to have an average growth of just 0.1% a year between 2024 and 2027. Commenting on the research, William Bain, Head of Trade Policy at the BCC, said: "Our findings highlight the key priorities for business that could make a difference when it comes to UK trade negotiations and other related policy developments." To read the BCC's news release go to https://www.britishchambers.org.uk/news/2023/12/red-tape-regulation-costs-holding-back-exports/

UK business confidence has risen to the highest level since early 2022. A survey by Lloyds Banking Group has found that UK business confidence rose to 42% in November, a three-point increase. This indicates that UK companies' business confidence is now at its highest level since February 2022, before the energy crisis that followed the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. The rise in business confidence above the long-term average of 28% has been driven by increased trading prospects for the year ahead, greater optimism in the economy and more companies expecting to hire staff. The Barometer survey (conducted before the Chancellor's Autumn Statement) shows firms' trading prospects were up this month, with 56% (up two points) of businesses anticipating stronger activity in the next twelve months. To read Lloyds Banking Group's news release go to https://www.lloydsbankinggroup.com/media/press-releases/2023/lloyds-bank-2023/november-2023-business-barometer.html.

UK business closures surpass openings for the first time since 2010. City A.M. has reported that a recent article in the Financial Times (FT) has suggested that business closures have overtaken openings for the first time since 2010. The FT's analysis follows figures published by the Office for National Statistics last week, which revealed a 7% slump in the number of businesses established in 2022 compared to the previous year. For example, sectors such as construction saw a 41% increase in closures with just an 8% increase in business openings. To read City A.M.'s article go to https://www.cityam.com/business-closures-surpass-openings-for-the-first-time-since-2010-as-higher-borrowing-costs-bite/.

Global Economy & Insolvencies

Some countries are at risk of recession. The National Institute of Social and Economic Research (NIESR) has predicted that GDP growth will slow to 3% in 2023 from 3.5% in 2022. Although this forecast is better than NIESR expected, it warns that the pace of growth is not strong, and it expects that weakness to persist into 2024. NIESR also warns that some countries are at potential risk of recession: the Euro Area has stagnated with almost zero growth for three consecutive quarters, and Germany, its largest economy, has experienced a substantial decline in GDP during this time; the pace of quarterly GDP growth in the US is also likely to fall back in the final quarter of the year. However, beyond these major advanced economies, the outlook appears stronger, though it is still surrounded by uncertainty. To read NIESR's news release go to https://www.niesr.ac.uk/publications/stuttering-global-growth?type=global-economic-outlook.

Economic outlook: A mild slowdown in 2024 and slightly improved growth in 2025. Global growth is set to remain modest, with the impact of the necessary monetary policy tightening, weak trade and lower business and consumer confidence being increasingly felt, according to the OECD’s latest Economic Outlook. The Outlook projects global GDP growth of 2.9% in 2023, followed by a mild slowdown to 2.7% in 2024 and a slight improvement to 3.0% in 2025. Asia is expected to continue to account for the bulk of global growth in 2024-25, as it has in 2023. 
OECD, 2023, Economic outlook: A mild slowdown in 2024 and slightly improved growth in 2025, 29 November 2023. OECD, https://www.oecd.org/newsroom/economic-outlook-a-mild-slowdown-in-2024-and-slightly-improved-growth-in-2025.htm.

Global growth is set to fall sharply in 2024. Fitch Ratings' latest Global Economic Outlook (GEO) report finds that world growth has held up well in 2023, driven by a normalisation of consumption in China and a pick-up in US growth, which have outweighed a sharp slowdown in Europe. Fitch has revised up its 2023 world growth forecast to 2.9% from 2.5% in the September GEO, with the US raised by 0.4pp to 2.4% and China by 0.5pp to 5.3%. Eurozone growth is little changed from the previous forecast: standing at 0.5%. However, with the full impact of recent monetary tightening still to be felt, China’s ongoing property slump and the eurozone economy stagnating, global growth is expected to fall sharply to 2.1% in 2024. To read Fitch Rating's news release go to https://www.fitchratings.com/research/sovereigns/world-growth-to-fall-sharply-in-2024-us-recession-avoided-08-12-2023.

EU economy to show modest upturn. The European Commission has published its Autumn 2023 economic forecast. It predicts that economic activity will gradually recover and inflation will continue to go down. This is set against a slowdown in the EU economy due, among other factors, to the high cost of living and increased interest rates. Overall, a rebound in growth is expected, with GDP growth forecast to improve in 2024 – to 1.3% in the EU and 1.2% in the euro area. The forecast also notes that inflation in the euro area has declined to 2.9% in October, from its 10.6% peak a year ago its lowest level in two years. This downward trend is set to continue in 2024. To read the European Commission's news release go to https://commission.europa.eu/news/inflation-forecast-drop-further-and-eu-economy-show-modest-upturn-2023-11-15_en.
 

AU Group warns that business failures are making a "serious comeback". AU Group's latest G-Grade for Q4 2023 warns that the shadow of a global recession may be receding, but business failures are making a "serious comeback". Most countries are experiencing an acceleration in insolvencies, with some – such as the US, South Korea and the Netherlands – seeing rises of over 40%. Overall, by the end of the year, insolvencies are expected to be up 6% compared to 2022. A further rise (+10%) is expected in 2024 (compared to 2023). The AU 'G-Grade' is based on the individual assessment of a country by each of the four largest credit insurers (Atradius, Coface, Credendo and Allianz Trade) and is calculated according to the real risk taken by these major insurers collectively. This issue's most notable downgrade is for Colombia. To download AU Group's report go to https://www.au-group.com/etudes/ggrade-q4-2023/.

Events & Professional Development

10th Annual Supply Chain Finance Summit, 25-25 January 2024, Madrid.

Events are moving fast in supply chain finance. The outlook for the sector is bright with the prospect of
greater freedom of operations brought by the Electronic Trade Documents Act and MLETR, new
development in SCF solutions such as in deep-tier financing, pre-shipment financing, supplying the long
tail, as well as AI. The 10th annual Supply Chain Finance Summit organised by our partner BCR in
cooperation with FCI is returning to Madrid for a two-day event to explore ways of better integration in
this new metaverse.
Join SCFS 2024 on 24-25th January in Madrid, at the offices of Cecabank, to hear from senior industry
experts and discuss the challenges of creating resilient, sustainable and harmonised payables finance
solutions, which will form the basis of the future of supply chain financing.
Click here for more information and to register.

TXF Americas 2024: Structured Trade & Export Finance, 28-29 February. East Hotel Miami
Join the best structured trade and export finance event in the Americas with over 200 of the most active lenders, ECAs, exporters, borrowers, traders and more looking to finance deals and meet key clients. Special offers available - email marketing@exilegroup.com to enquire.
For more information go to https://americas2024.exilegroup.com/.

MENA 2024: Export, Project & Development Finance, 4-5 March. Dubai, Ritz Carlton 
Join us as we gather a deal-hungry attendee list from leading ECAs, exporters, borrowers, EPCs, developers, lenders, investors, ECAs and other key export and project finance players!

Special offers available - email marketing@exilegroup.com to enquire.

For more information go to https://mena2024.exilegroup.com/.

The 9th Alternative and Receivables Finance Forum, 28-29 November, London.

TXF Global 2024: Export, Agency & Project Finance,11-12 June. Athens, Divani Caravel

The most distinguished export finance event around returns and this year to Athens! With over 1000 in-person attendees, a stellar speaker list and a networking opportunity that is crucial if you work in this industry. 

Special offers available - email marketing@exilegroup.com to enquire,

For more information go to https://global2024.exilegroup.com/.

Professional Development

STECIS, the Trade Credit Insurance & Surety Academy endorsed by ICISA, offers a range of
webinars and classroom training courses.
Classroom training courses are organised once or twice per year or on demand, while webinars
are organised multiple times per year or on demand for groups of participants.


For 2024 the following courses have been planned in Q1:

  • 26 & 27 February: The Surety Bonds Foundation Course

  • 26 & 27 February: The Trade Credit Insurance Foundation course

  • 28 & 29 February: The Surety Bonds Advanced Course.

  • 28 & 29 February: The Trade Credit Insurance Advanced course
     

All classroom courses take place in the Steigenberger Airport Hotel close to Schiphol Airport/Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The courses include lunches and a dinner at the end of the first training day. Very experienced experts from the industry host the courses, and there is plenty of opportunity for asking questions, discussions and networking.

There is also the possibility of arranging in-house training, with a tailor-made outline for your staff based on the training demands of your company. The training will be effected at your own offices or at a venue of choice.


Detailed information about the webinar and classroom training courses is available on Stecis’ website: www.stecis.org. Also, further information can be obtained by sending an e-mail to info@stecis.org.

About this month's sponsor: Tinubu

Tinubu is the business facilitator and exchange enabler that delivers fluidity and simplicity to the insurance industry by using the strength of collective performance. Our company is an alliance of technology software and insurance expertise offering the best combination to its clients. It covers the entire value chain of credit insurance & surety with one end-to-end platform, connecting every part of your business with one digital highway.
Created in 2000 and headquartered in Paris, France, Tinubu is an independent software provider and employs 170 people, located in Paris, London, New York, Orlando, Singapore, and Montreal. Its clients represent 30 of the top 60 Credit & Surety underwriters worldwide.


Read more on tinubu.com
Watch Tinubu’s video
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UK Economy
Late Payment & Business Distress
Global Economy
Insolvencies
About the sponsor
Events
Creit Mangement
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