Welcome to the January 2021 issue of Credit Management News Digest. This issue is sponsored by AIG.

UK Late Payment, Cashflow & Insolvencies
At least 250,000 UK small businesses look set to fold without further government help. The latest Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) quarterly Small Business Index (SBI) has warned that just under 5% of the 1,400 UK firms it recently surveyed expect to close this year. The proportion is at an all-time high for the SBI, which launched in the wake of the financial crash, and is more than double that recorded at the same point 12 months ago. In addition, as the SBI's stresses, this figure does not reflect the threat of closure faced by those hoping to survive - despite having frozen their operations, reduced headcounts or taken on significant debt. The FSB's report also found that the vast majority of the businesses that surveyed (80%) do not expect their performance to improve over the next three months and almost half (49%) of exporters expect international sales to drop this quarter (up from 33% at this time last year). To read the FSB's news release go to https://www.fsb.org.uk/resources-page/at-least-250-000-uk-small-businesses-set-to-fold-without-further-help-new-study-warns.html.
4,000 financial services firms with low financial resilience are at heightened risk of failure. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published the results of its COVID-19 financial resilience survey findings and has warned that a market downturn driven by the pandemic risks significant numbers of UK firms failing. Sheldon Mills, Executive Director of Consumers and Competition, commented that at the end of October the FCA had identified 4,000 UK financial services firms (predominantly SMEs) with low financial resilience and at heightened risk of failure. Approximately 30% "have the potential to cause harm in failure." The survey also found that 59% of respondents expect COVID to negatively impact their net income, with 72% of these companies predicting that the impact will be between 1% and 25%, and 3% expecting the impact to be 76% or more. To read the FCA's news release go to https://www.fca.org.uk/news/press-releases/fca-publishes-coronavirus-financial-resilience-survey-data.
Cash flow deteriorated for more than four-in-ten UK firms in Q4 2020. The British Chambers of Commerce’s (BCC) Quarterly Economic Survey has found that UK business conditions remained weak in Q4 2020, with no fundamental improvement in the key indicators in Q4 - all of which were well below pre-crisis levels. 95% of BCC's respondents were SMEs. In addition, cash flow continued to deteriorate for more than four-in-ten UK firms. In Q4, 21% of firms reported an improvement in cash flow, 36% reported no change and 43% reported a deterioration. In line with indicators from Q2 and Q3, micro firms were more likely to report worsening cash flow, with 51% of these firms reporting a deterioration, compared to 27% in Q1 2020. To read BCC's news release go to https://www.britishchambers.org.uk/news/2021/01/bcc-quarterly-economic-survey-q4-2020-business-conditions-remain-weak-and-show-no-signs-of-improvement-for-vast-majority-of-firms.
The number of UK retailers in ‘significant’ distress leapt by 24% in Q4 2020. New data from Begbies Traynor has indicated that 39,232 UK retailers – including both online and bricks and mortar stores – are now in 'significant' financial distress. This is an increase of 24% compared to the same period (1 October - 9 December) in 2019 and is up 11% compared to Q3 2020. The figures also show that over 20,000 UK high street retailers and over 11,500 online retailers are now in difficulty – a rise of 22% and 27% respectively since the run-up to Christmas 2019. Julie Palmer, Partner at Begbies Traynor, commented: “Although there are increasing expectations that 2021 will bring more positivity, the effects of COVID-19 will continue to create a chill throughout the whole of the year and beyond, with it likely we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg for financial distress amongst businesses currently.” To read Begbies Traynor's news release go to https://www.begbies-traynorgroup.com/news/firm-news/retail-and-hospitality-braces-for-a-bleak-winter-as-covid-19-takes-its-toll.
UK Company Voluntary Arrangements rise by 375% in consumer-facing sectors. New analysis by PwC has found that UK Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVAs) have increased by 375% year-on-year in consumer-facing sectors most exposed to the economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19. Although UK government support and a ban on winding up petitions contributed to a total decrease in CVAs across all industries between January and November 2019, twenty-five “large” CVAs were launched by companies with turnover above £25 million between January and November 2020 compared to 13 between January to November in 2019. Nineteen of these were launched by retail consumer hospitality and leisure (RCHL) firms compared to four CVAs in same period in 2019 - indicating nearly a five-fold increase. Additionally, since the start of November, proposals for six more RCHL CVAs have been made public. To read PwC's news release go to https://www.pwc.co.uk/press-room/press-releases/cva-analysis-outlook.html.
UK corporate insolvencies in November fell by 41% compared to a year earlier. Latest data from the UK's Insolvency Service has found that corporate insolvencies increased by 4% to 889 in November 2020 compared to October's figure of 862, but were 41% lower than November 2019's figure of 1,512. However, Colin Haig, President of R3, warned that the statistics are not an accurate reflection of the state of the economy or the UK business community and cautioned that without the current level of support from the UK Government "we'd be in a very different situation - and a very grave one at that." He added that the UK economy is still nearly 8% smaller than in February 2020, and several big brands have entered insolvency processes or announced restructuring programmes in recent weeks. To read R3's news release go to https://www.r3.org.uk/press-policy-and-research/news/more/29684/page/1//.
UK Trade Sectors & Economy
A 'quick recovery' scenario could see most of the output loss caused by the first UK national lockdown recovered by the end of 2021. PwC has advised that it has revised its projections for the UK economy. Under PwC's ‘slow recovery’ and ‘quick recovery’ scenarios, the expected annual GDP growth rates range from around 2.2% to 4.8% in 2021, accelerating to around 5.1% to 6.3% in 2022 before slowing down to about 1.7% and 2.0% in 2023. This means that most of the output loss caused by the first national lockdown would be recovered by the end of 2021 under the 'quick recovery' scenario and by the middle of 2023 under the 'slow recovery' scenario. However, PwC also cautions that there is still significant uncertainty over the pace of the recovery in 2021. To read PwC's analysis go to https://www.pwc.co.uk/services/economics/insights/uk-economic-update-covid-19.html.
The UK is the fifth-largest economy in the world again. New research from the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) has found that the UK has overtaken India to retake fifth place in the rankings of the world’s biggest economies, despite suffering one of the deepest recessions in the pandemic and the deepest recession of all G7 leading nations. The US, China, Japan and Germany are in the top 4 positions. Looking ahead, the CEBR anticipates that the trend rate of growth for the UK will be 4.0% annually from 2021-25, 1.8% annually from 2026-30 and 1.8% annually from 2031-35. As a result, although India will overtake the UK by 2025, the UK will nonetheless cement itself as Europe’s second-largest economy behind Germany in the coming decade and hold sixth place in the world league table until 2035. To read CEBR's report go to https://cebr.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/WELT-2021-final-29.12.pdf.
Strong Q3 2020 bounce back confirmed for UK economy, but new restrictions will limit activity in the near term. A new analysis by EY ITEM Club has confirmed that UK GDP bounced back by a stronger than previously reported 16.0% quarter-on-quarter in Q3 2020. This followed a record contraction of -18.8% quarter-on-quarter in Q2 and a drop of -3.0% quarter-on-quarter in Q1. All output sectors saw robust growth: services (14.7%), industrial production (14.7%), manufacturing (19.5%), and construction (41.2%). However, even with these improvements, GDP in Q3 was still down -8.6% year-on-year and -8.6% below its Q4 2019 level. EY ITEM Club now forecasts that Q4 GDP contraction will be around -2% quarter-on-quarter. This would result in overall GDP contraction of -10.6% in 2020. To read EY's news release go to https://www.ey.com/en_uk/news/2020/12/strong-q3-bounce-back-confirmed-for-uk-economy-but-new-restrictions-will-limit-activity-in-near-term-ey-item-club-comments-on-latest-gdp-figures.
UK economy set for record growth in 2021. The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has predicted that although the UK economy has experienced a bigger hit than average from COVID-19 (with a -11.4% fall in growth in 2020 predicted by CEBR), it expects that spending - boosted by the £200 billion of savings built up during the pandemic - could lead to UK GDP growth of around 8% in 2021. The CEBR notes that it has tracked UK economic history back to 1930, and the only years recording comparable or higher growth were 1915 (+8.0%), 927 (+8.1%), 1940 (+10.0%) and 1941 (+9.1%). Three of these were in the exceptional conditions of wartime, while one follows the recovery from 1926’s General Strike. To read CEBR's news release go to https://cebr.com/reports/the-world-economy-recovering-at-its-fastest-rate-since-1976-the-uk-since-1941-tourism-hospitality-tech-and-pharma-to-come-roaring-back-in-the-second-half-of-the-year-but-watch-out-for-inflation/.
Christmas in quarantine leaves UK retailers feeling the chill. New figures from BDO LLP indicate that UK retailers recorded a disappointing end to the Golden Quarter, thanks to heightened COVID-19 restrictions and expanding lockdowns, despite a strong start to the month. According to BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker, total like-for-like sales, combined in-store and online, declined by -1.6% in December, but from a very good base of +6.6% for the same month in 2019. The near outlook also seems poor. Sophie Michael, Head of Retail and Wholesale at BDO LLP, commented: “Early January spending figures suggest shoppers weren’t simply waiting for discounting, but instead stopping discretionary spend altogether as the nation hunkers down for a long winter lockdown. Unlike the November lockdown that had a finite ending with Christmas in sight, the current forecast remains much gloomier for retailers." To read BDO's news release go to https://www.bdo.co.uk/en-gb/news/2021/christmas-in-quarantine-leaves-retailers-feeling-the-chill.
UK retailers' sales stabilised in December. The CBI’s latest monthly Distributive Trades Survey has reported that UK retail sales volumes stabilised in December after two months of sharp declines. However, the survey – which covered the latter part of the second English lockdown and the return to tiered restrictions – revealed significant divergence across sub-sectors. Grocers, furniture vendors and retailers of ‘other normal goods’ (cards, flowers and jewellery, etc.) saw strong growth. However, clothing, footwear and department stores continued to report that volumes were lower than a year earlier. Looking ahead, overall retail sales volumes and orders placed with suppliers are expected to fall sharply in the year to January. Ben Jones, Principal Economist at the CBI, commented: “It says something about the challenges the retail sector has faced during 2020 that stable sales volumes in the run-up to Christmas were seen as a good result for the time of year." To read the CBI's news release go to https://www.cbi.org.uk/media-centre/articles/festive-lift-for-retailers-as-sales-stabilise-in-december/.
November UK retail sales illustrate "the volatile times we live in". A new analysis by RSM found that Britain’s retail sales in November 2020, during lockdown, decreased by 3.8% in volume and 4.1% in value compared with October 2020. As before, the disparity between bricks and mortar and online continued to grow, as did the contrast between retails winners and losers. For example, food store sales were up 3.1% and household goods grew 1.6%, while, in contrast, clothing and accessories sales fell by 19% compared with the previous month. Unsurprisingly, online penetration grew again in November and accounted for 31.4% of the proportion of all sales. To read RSM's news release go to https://www.rsmuk.com/news/november-retail-sales-illustrative-of-the-volatile-times-we-live-in-now-says-rsm.
UK manufacturers slash their growth forecast. According to a new survey published by Make UK and BDO, the UK manufacturing sector is forecast to see a 12% drop in output in 2020. Make UK has also substantially downgraded its growth forecasts for 2021 to just 2.7% - down from 5.1% last quarter. As with recent surveys, there was a marked divergence in performance by sector in Q4 2020. Electronics was one of the few sectors in positive territory with an output balance of +6%, suggesting a continued boost from investment in digital technologies and consumer purchases ahead of Christmas. By contrast, the motor vehicles sector troubles continued with an output balance of -14% in Q4 and a forecast export order balance of -33% in Q1 2021. Stephen Phipson, Chief Executive at Make UK, said: “Manufacturing has stepped back from the abyss that it stared into earlier in the year. But, make no mistake it is going to be a long haul back, with talk of a V-shaped recovery nothing more than fanciful." To read BDO's news release go to https://www.bdo.co.uk/en-gb/news/2020/industry-slashes-growth-forecast-ahead-of-eu-exit-make-uk-bdo-survey.
UK CFOs anticipate a return to growth and lasting change in 2021. According to Deloitte’s latest CFO survey, UK CFOs believe that the pandemic is set to trigger a fundamental change in the business environment. 98% of CFOs expect corporate and individual taxation levels to rise, 62% anticipate higher regulation of the corporate sector, and 59% see the size and role of government in the economy increasing. Richard Houston, Senior Partner and Chief Executive of Deloitte UK, said: “The pandemic has triggered fundamental and lasting changes in business, with CFOs expecting rising levels of home-working, greater diversification of supply chains and increasing investment in technology. . . CFOs are optimistic about operating in this changing world, with a return to growth expected this year. However, with pandemic restrictions expected to be in place through the first half of this year and elevated uncertainty CFOs are maintaining defensive balance sheet positioning." To read Deloitte's news release go to https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/press-releases/articles/deloitte-uk-cfo-survey-cfos-anticipate-return-to-growth-and-lasting-change-in-2021.html.
Europe & Global Economy
The global economy could revert to its pre-crisis level by the end of 2021. A new analysis by PWC has predicted that the global economy in aggregate should revert to its pre-crisis level of output by the end of 2021 and expand by approximately 5% in market exchange rates. This would be the fastest rate recorded in the 21st century. However, as PwC cautions, it is contingent on the speedy deployment of vaccines and continued accommodative fiscal, monetary and financial conditions in the larger economies. Barret Kupelian, senior economist at PwC, commented: “A distinguishing feature of the Great Rebound is that it will be uneven across different countries, sectors and income levels. For example, the Chinese economy is already bigger than its pre-pandemic size, but other advanced economies ‒ particularly heavily service-based economies like the UK, France and Spain or those focused on exporting capital goods, such as Germany and Japan ‒ are unlikely to recover to their pre-crisis levels by the end of 2021.” To read PwC's news release go to https://www.pwc.co.uk/press-room/press-releases/2021-uk-and-global-economic-outlook.html.
The global economic collapse in 2020 was "slightly less severe" than anticipated. The World Bank's Global Economic Prospects report has estimated that the collapse in global economic activity in 2020 was slightly less severe than previously projected - mainly due to shallower contractions in advanced economies and a more robust recovery in China. However, disruptions to activity in the majority of other emerging market and developing economies were more acute than expected. Looking ahead, the report suggests that the near-term outlook remains highly uncertain in 2021. In a downside scenario in which infections continue to rise, and the rollout of a vaccine is delayed, a global expansion of just 1.6% could result. Alternatively, an upside scenario with successful pandemic control and vaccination process could see global growth accelerate to nearly 5%. To read the World Bank's news release go to https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2021/01/05/global-economy-to-expand-by-4-percent-in-2021-vaccine-deployment-and-investment-key-to-sustaining-the-recovery.
China will overtake the US as the largest economy in the world. The World Economic League Table (WELT) for 2021 published by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has predicted that China will become the world's largest economy by 2028. The WELT notes that the COVID-19 pandemic and corresponding economic fallout have tipped the long-standing rivalry between the US and China in China’s favour. China has also sharply improved its ease of doing business ranking - moving from 46th place in the world last year to its current 31st place. "We expect the United States' share of global GDP to decline from 2021 onwards, and for the country to eventually be overtaken by China as the world's largest economy," the CEBR said in an annual report. "We now expect this to happen in 2028, five years sooner than in the previous edition of the WELT." CEBR anticipates that China's growth rate will be 5.7% annually from 2021-25, 4.5% annually from 2026-30, and 3.9% annually from 2031-35. To read CEBR's report go to https://cebr.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/WELT-2021-final-29.12.pdf.
The COVID-19 vaccine will "supercharge" global growth in H2 2021 but will not prevent an increase in insolvencies. Euler Hermes has advised that although the short-term outlook indicates that the economic outlook is getting worse, recent vaccine breakthroughs have led their economists to revise-up their forecasts for global economic growth to +4.6% in 2021, followed by a sustained recovery in 2022 at +3.8%. A return to pre-crisis GDP levels is now expected by Q4 2021 in the US and H1 2022 in Europe. However, although support measures implemented and then extended by governments have succeeded in keeping insolvencies artificially low, Euler Hermes also cautions that as this support comes to an end, an increase in insolvencies could result in a +25% rise in failures in 2021 and +13% in 2022. This will consist of mainly pre-COVID-19 “zombies” (companies that were no longer viable before the crisis but were kept afloat by the emergency measures) as well as COVID-19 “zombies” (companies weakened by the crisis). To read Euler Hermes' report go to https://www.eulerhermes.com/en_global/news-insights/economic-insights/2021-22-vaccine-economics.html.
European Statistical Recovery Dashboard is launched. Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, has launched a European Statistical Recovery Dashboard. The Dashboard includes monthly and quarterly indicators from many statistical areas (updated monthly), covering areas such as macroeconomic developments, business and trade, and the labour market. Each indicator can be explored using an interactive chart view. Relevant data for tracking countries' economic and social recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is also given. For the current dashboard go to https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/cache/recovery-dashboard/.
Virtual Events
Supply Chain Finance Summit, 26th – 27th January 2021, Virtual
Our 6th annual Supply Chain Finance Summit is an important opportunity to learn about the latest trends, ideas and developments transforming working capital and supply chain management. This in-depth event tracks the transformation of supply chain finance, showcasing the latest innovations within the industry for both domestic and cross-border financing, examining the future of technology-enabled supply chain models and impacts of the Pandemic, and driving the conversation on increasing access of SCF for SMEs and emerging markets.
Being a virtual event, it provides a chance to network with an even wider circle of industry leaders on a global basis.
As event partners, Credit Insurance News+ can offer their members a 10% discount on delegate tickets. To register please follow this link https://bcrpub.com/events/supply-chain-finance-summit-2021. The CIN delegate discount code is SCFSMP10.
Alternatively, you can contact yongmei.he@bcrpub.com quoting your discount code for payment via invoice.
Atradius Virtual Event Series, 4 February 2021.
From crisis to opportunity: What’s the future of trade?
Event 1: How Covid 19 changed global trade forever Thursday 4 February 2021
The Covid-19 pandemic thrust almost all of the world’s economies into recession. Global GDP is forecast to contract by 4% year-on-year with many economists labelling this recession worse in magnitude than the Great Recession of 2009.
So what are the opportunities for trade and growth in 2021 and, how can businesses maximise them?
Atradius has brought together some of the world’s leading business minds to debate these questions and help find a positive way forward in the first in a series of four virtual events.
Moderated by accredited journalist Daisy McAndrew, the panel will feature:
  • Professor Ian Goldin, Professor of Globalisation and Development at the University of Oxford, former VP of the World Bank and development adviser to Nelson Mandela.
  • Emma Marcegaglia, CEO and Chair of Marcegaglia Holding Spa & Marcegaglia Investments Srl (Italy) and former President of Confindustria and Businesseurope.
  • Johan Melander, Credit Director Electrolux APAC & MEA
  • Edwin Kuhlman, Head of the Global Commercial Underwriting Team and Head of Underwriting, The Netherlands at Atradius.
Register today!
GTR MENA 2021 Virtual, 15-17 February 2021.
Global Trade Review's annual trade and export finance conference, GTR MENA, will return in 2021 as a hybrid event, providing an extended offering as the region’s leading gathering for networking and knowledge sharing, with a virtual event on February 15-17 and a physical event on September 29. Proceedings for the year will kick off with GTR MENA 2020 Virtual on February 15-17, set to welcome over 1,500 participants and featuring the chance to hear the latest insights and developments from experts on the most pertinent issues impacting on MENA trade, utilising a mixture of live-streamed and pre-recorded content and fostering a new way of networking via GTR’s dedicated virtual event platform.
As part of its hybrid offering for 2021, GTR MENA will also descend on Dubai in September for an exclusive one-day physical gathering. This will include an extensive programme, full exhibition and that much missed opportunity for participants to hold face-to-face discussions with industry peers and potential clients. 
VIRTUAL EVENT LINK: https://bit.ly/2VT3Q1e 
PHYSICAL EVENT LINK: https://bit.ly/3gnBJk8
GTR India 2021 Virtual, 10-11 March 2021.
GTR India will return in 2021 as a hybrid event, offering an extended offering as the country’s leading trade-based gathering for networking and knowledge sharing, with a virtual event on March 10-11 and a physical event in Mumbai in October.
For over 15 years GTR India has provided critical market insight combined with unrivalled networking opportunities with leading experts on the country’s trade environment and trade finance sector. Both events will delve into the most pertinent discussion topics impacting Indian #trade and #exports, from supply chain challenges, geopolitical considerations (including free trade agreements), support for exporters, digitisation drives and the measures taken across both public and private sector to aid business recovery.
VIRTUAL EVENT LINK: https://bit.ly/36VQ4By.
PHYSICAL EVENT LINK: https://bit.ly/36VbT48.
GTR West Africa 2021 Virtual, 24-25 March 2021.
GTR West Africa will return in 2021 virtually, providing an extended digital offering as the region’s leading event for trade discussion and networking on March 24-25.
Encompassing all the key aspects of the live conference experience through GTR’s established virtual event format, this hugely anticipated gathering will combine the highest level content with bountiful networking opportunities via our dedicated platform.
Harnessing the vast potential of technology for connecting West African trade leaders with their peers, this online gathering promises a comprehensive programme of live and on-demand debate, discussion and engagement, welcoming the region’s leading practitioners in trade, export and commodity finance to explore the latest developments, strategies and solutions employed to drive growth.
LINK: https://bit.ly/36XnLTf
GTR East Africa 2021 Virtual. 12-13 May 2021.
Following the success of the inaugural virtual event in October 2020, GTR East Africa will return once again in a digital form for 2021, taking place on May 12-13, 2021. Utilising GTR’s bespoke virtual event platform, this online gathering promises expansive networking and an extensive and comprehensive programme of live and on-demand content, welcoming the leading practitioners in trade, agribusiness, supply chain and commodity finance. Join industry experts from across the region to explore the latest developments, strategies and solutions employed to drive East African trade growth. LINK: https://bit.ly/3gphJ0x.
About the Sponsor: AIG
An Experienced Partner for All Economic Cycles
American International Group (AIG) is a leading global insurance organisation. AIG member companies provide a wide range of property casualty insurance, life insurance, retirement solutions, and other financial services to customers in more than 80 countries and jurisdictions. Within the Trade Credit and Trade Finance markets, our specialist teams create flexible insurance solutions that strengthen economic resilience and enable capital efficiency for clients.

Trade Credit Insurance
In an uncertain world, where economic downturns and shocks are a continuous threat, businesses are justified in taking a cautious approach to growth. Trade Credit insurance from AIG can help transfer the risk of bad debts, allowing our clients to trade and grow with confidence.

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