Welcome to the July 2023 issue of Credit Management News Digest. 
STA International sponsors this month's issue.

UK Late Payment, Cashflow & Insolvencies
"Shocking payment culture" at some of the UK's highest-profile business failures. A report from Good Business Pays, 'Who cares: Can late payment culture be an alarm signal of wider problems in a business', exposes the persistent poor payment culture in multiple UK business failures across different sectors. Analysing high-profile business failures, the report found that payment times at failed companies were slower and later — often twice as slow as their direct competitors — with a culture of slow payment over a long period. Terry Corby, Founder & CEO of Good Business Pays, commented: "We have been tracking company payment performance for three years now and have long suspected the link between slow or late payment and the financial health of companies. For the first time, we see this link clearly when we look at the payment culture that existed in companies that failed, many leaving a trail of unpaid suppliers in their wake." To read Good Business Pays' news release (with a link to the full report) go to https://goodbusinesspays.com/posts/good-business-pays-calls-for-transparency-as-new-report-shows-late-payments-may-be-early-warning-sign-of-financial-problems/.
A strong deterioration in the trade credit risk landscape for UK companies. Atradius' latest Payment Practices Barometer for the UK has found a strong deterioration in the trade credit risk landscape for UK companies with a marked increase in late payments and bad debts. Atradius' survey (conducted between the end of Q1 and the beginning of Q2 2023) found that UK late payments stood at an average of 50% of all B2B invoiced sales — a rise of 25% compared to last year. The level of bad debts had also increased by 80%, affecting 9% of all UK B2B sales, while UK insolvencies stand at 120% of the pre-pandemic levels of 2019. Furthermore, 27% of companies polled expect a severe worsening of payment behaviour in the year ahead, compared to just 12% last year. This sentiment was expressed across all sectors. To read Atradius' news release go to https://atradius.co.uk/reports/payment-practices-barometer-b2b-payment-practices-trends-united-kingdom-2023.html. The Statistical Appendix to the regional report is also available for download.
UK businesses saw no significant improvement in sales and cashflow data in Q2. The British Chamber of Commerce's (BCC) Quarterly Economic Survey for the second quarter of 2023 shows that business performance across different UK sectors varied considerably, with hospitality and retail firms suffering more widely from cashflow difficulties. Overall, growth in business activity remained weak, with no significant improvement to sales and cashflow data since Q1. Just over one in four (26%) businesses said their cash flow had increased over the last three months (25% in Q1), while 29% have seen it decrease (30% in Q1). Pressures remain highest in the retail and hospitality sectors, with 38% and 37% respectively reporting reduced cashflow. To read BCC's news release go to https://www.britishchambers.org.uk/news/2023/07/bcc-quarterly-economic-survey-signs-inflation-pressure-easing.
Acquisitions that go wrong are a top cause of business insolvency. According to new research by Purbeck Personal Guarantee Insurance, acquisitions that go wrong are a top cause of business insolvency. Not being close to business financials due to an over-reliance on accountants and bad debts or payment disputes were also major reasons. Purbeck's Managing Director, Todd Davison, commented: "Business failures can often occur after a business acquisition. When a business goes through a leveraged buyout, where the target company to be acquired is loaded with debt to buy out the former shareholders, then this has an adverse cash flow and margin impact to meet the repayment obligations. It means an immediate deterioration of the balance sheet position." Bad debts or payment disputes were the third most common reason businesses became insolvent. According to Purbeck, however, a common theme amongst directors claiming on their Personal Guarantee Insurance was an overconcentration on one or more customers who were late payers, which in due course, put a stranglehold on the creditor's business. To read Purbeck's news release go to https://www.purbeckinsurance.co.uk/blog.
A new analysis from InfolinkGazette shows a continuing increase in UK insolvencies and profit warnings. Although profit warnings in Q2 2023 fell by more than 32% compared to Q1 2023 (from 122 down to 82), UK companies reported a considerable increase in reporting "material uncertainty" or "going concern" events. Only 11 of these events were recorded in Q1 2023; this number jumped to 49 in Q2 2023. InfolinkGazette also notes that, although the number of initial stage winding up petitions rose by just 1% in Q2 2023 compared with Q1 2023 (from 1494 to 1509), this represented an increase of over 165% compared to Q2 2022. Interestingly, just 22 actions were brought by energy companies in the corresponding quarter of 2022, but this number more than trebled in Q2 2023 (to 70). S. Kaler, Head of Data & Operations at InfolinkGazette, commented: "Although we are not seeing such huge increases in the number of actions being filed, totals are nonetheless still increasing. HMRC continues to be the main driver of these actions." To read InfolinkGazette's analysis go to https://www.infolinkgazette.co.uk/#press.
UK corporate insolvencies in May increased by 89.3% compared to pre-pandemic levels. R3 has reported that the latest data from the Insolvency Service indicates that corporate insolvencies increased by 51.2% in May 2023 to a total of 2,552 compared to April's total of 1,688, and increased by 39.8% compared to May 2022's figure of 1,825. This was an increase of 151.9% compared to May 2021's total of 1,013 and 170.3% from May 2020's total of 944. Corporate insolvencies had also increased by 89.3% compared to pre-pandemic levels in May 2019 (1,348). Nicky Fisher, President of R3, commented: "The corporate insolvency figures published today are the highest we’ve seen since January 2019, as the fallout from battling the effects of the pandemic, coupled with rising costs, increased creditor pressure and high inflation, is causing more businesses to turn to an insolvency process to help resolve their financial issues." To read R3's news release go to https://www.r3.org.uk/press-policy-and-research/news/more/31682/r3-responds-to-may-2023-insolvency-stats/.
UK company insolvencies in 2022 increased by 37% compared to 2021. New data from Creditsafe has found that 2,539 companies in the UK became insolvent in June 2023 — an increase of 3% compared to the previous month and 13% compared to the same month in 2022. 18% of insolvencies came from within the UK construction sector. According to Creditsafe, this brings the total number of UK company insolvencies for 2023 to 14,691 — a 13% increase compared to the same period in 2022 and a 75% increase compared to 2021. The Construction sector remains the most significant contributor to insolvency numbers, representing 17% of all insolvencies in June 2023, with 449 Construction companies becoming insolvent. Year-to-date, Construction accounts for 17% of all company insolvencies in 2023, while the Wholesale and Retail and Accommodation and Food Services sectors combined represented 28% of all insolvencies. To read Creditsafe's news release go to https://www.creditsafe.com/gb/en/blog/reports/insolvencies.html.
The numbers of UK Creditors' Voluntary Liquidations are very close to the highest level on record. Xenia Broking has published a new report, UK Insolvency Analysis 2023, by Roberto Simone, Risk Development Executive at Xenia Broking. The report advises that although the latest macroeconomic data suggests the general economy and outlook appears to have improved, the short term looks increasingly bumpy for many UK businesses. The latest data confirmed a total of 5,747 company insolvencies in the quarter, with the number of Creditors Voluntary Liquidations very close to the highest level on record since the start of the series in 1960. Looking ahead, high energy bills and inflation, interest rate increases and a more aggressive HMRC suggest that insolvency figures for the rest of 2023 will climb even further. To read Xenia Broking's report go to https://xeniabroking.com/news-and-insights/uk-insolvency-analysis.
UK Economy & Exports
Q1 2023 UK GDP was 0.5% below its pre-COVID-19 level. The latest quarterly data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals that UK GDP is estimated to have increased by an unrevised 0.1% in Quarter 1 2023. This follows growth of 0.1% in the previous quarter. The level of quarterly GDP in Q1 2023 is now 0.5% below its pre-COVID-19 level in Q4 2019. In output terms, the services sector grew by 0.1% in the quarter, driven by increases in information and communication and administrative and support service activities; elsewhere, the construction sector grew by a revised 0.4% (previously 0.7%), while the production sector grew by 0.1%, with a revised 0.6% growth in manufacturing (previously 0.5%). To read the ONS' news release go to https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/grossdomesticproductgdp/bulletins/quarterlynationalaccounts/januarytomarch2023.
The UK economy will likely escape a recession. KPMG's latest UK Economic Outlook predicts that the UK economy will likely escape a recession thanks to a better outlook for energy prices, a more resilient global environment, and continued tightness in the labour market. However, KPMG expects growth to remain weak, with real GDP at just 0.3% in 2023 ("relatively weak by historical standards") rising to 1.1% in 2024, and notes that GDP is still 0.5% below its pre-pandemic level at the end of 2019. KPMG also reports that global activity has also been mixed. According to the Bank of England's estimate, world GDP grew by 0.6% in 2023 Q1, with growth of 0.3% in the US. Growth in the Eurozone has been negative for two consecutive quarters, with Germany and Ireland falling into a technical recession. To read KPMG's report (with a link to the full report) go to https://kpmg.com/uk/en/home/insights/2018/09/uk-economic-outlook.html.
The British economy has "plenty of potential" but needs stability. Following Coface's upgrade of its country risk assessment for Ireland in Q2 2023 (while the UK was left unchanged), Coface's economist, Jonathan Steenberg, has published a paper which examines the reasons for Coface's upgrade to Ireland and considers what the UK can do to catch up. He notes that "chronic pessimism" seems to be the prevailing sentiment in the UK following "the financial upheavals of the pandemic, the mini-budget, concerns about the UK's future trading relationships", as well as five years of under-investment that has hampered productivity. For an upgrade to the UK's risk assessment, he advises that Coface would hope for export recovery and recovery in economic activity to pre-pandemic strength, combined with a fall in corporate insolvencies from the current surge. He concludes: "Overall, there is plenty of potential in the British economy, but it needs stability before it can be realised." To read Coface's article go to https://cofaceitfirst.co.uk/trade-risk-in-the-uk-and-ireland/.
Nine in ten mid-sized UK businesses are halting growth plans due to difficulty accessing capital. According to new research from BDO, difficulty accessing capital is forcing 91% of UK mid-sized businesses to curb growth plans. The bi-monthly survey of 500 leaders of medium-sized businesses, which looks at UK companies' challenges and opportunities, reveals that 24% are forced to scale back the business or make redundancies due to difficulty accessing capital. 22% cannot finance expansion plans, with a further 20% struggling to invest in new technology or software to improve their business. As a result of tough economic challenges, 40% will need to raise funds over the next year, while a further third (33%) plan to source new financing in the next 13 to 18 months. To read BDO's news release go to https://www.bdo.co.uk/en-gb/news/2023/nine-in-ten-mid-sized-businesses-halting-growth-plans-due-to-difficulty-accessing-capital.
June sees weak retail sales growth amid turmoil in the sector. According to BDO’s latest High Street Sales Tracker, total like-for-like (LFL) sales in June grew +1.9% from last year's base of +8.4%. However, BDO notes that LFL sales growth remains well below CPI inflation and has now failed to exceed the rate of inflation every month since July 2022. The homeware sector continued its poor performance into June, with LFL sales falling by -0.6% from a negative base of -8.8% for the same month last year. In-store sales performed "particularly poorly", falling -0.7% from a base of -1.9% in 2022. The lifestyle sector also saw limited growth, with total LFLs rising by +2.3% across the month from a base of +6.9% (although this marks the category's seventh consecutive month of positive LFL sales). To read BDO's news release go to https://www.bdo.co.uk/en-gb/news/2023/june-sees-weak-retail-sales-growth-amid-turmoil-in-the-sector.
An uptick in UK exports, but trade with the EU remains weak. The British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) has reported that new trade data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicates that UK trade data for April 2023 showed a welcome rise in exports. However, goods exports to the EU remained weak, declining by 0.5%, due to falls in miscellaneous manufactured goods offset by a rise in fuel exports to Germany and the Netherlands. In contrast, non-EU goods exports rose by 7.3% in April.  On volumes (excluding inflation), total goods export volumes rose by 3.5% in April, with non-EU goods exports up by 6.9% but static goods exports to the EU. To read the BCC's news release go to https://www.britishchambers.org.uk/news/2023/06/uptick-in-exports-but-trade-with-the-eu-remains-weak.
UK manufacturing recovery continues despite challenges. According to the Make UK/BDO Q2 Manufacturing Outlook survey, UK manufacturers saw a continued rebound in activity in the year's second quarter, easing fears of a significant recession for the sector. The findings show a continued positive picture, with the improvement being driven by strong demand in the Other Transport and Electronic sectors in particular, with the balance of output in Other Transport (largely aerospace) "extremely strong" at +82%. However, despite conditions remaining positive, Make UK is still forecasting a slight contraction of -0.3% for manufacturing in 2023 — although the picture remains far better than the significant contraction of -4.4% it was forecasting at the end of last year. To read BDO's news release go to https://www.bdo.co.uk/en-gb/news/2023/manufacturing-recovery-continues-despite-challenges-%E2%80%93-make-uk-bdo-survey.
Global: Late Payment
Chasing late payments: Europe's quarter of a trillion-euro expense. Intrum's latest annual European Payment report reveals the extent to which European businesses are challenged by the time constraints of chasing late payments and trying to break free from the late-payments loop. Intrum's findings suggest that European businesses are spending, on average, a quarter of a trillion euros a year chasing late payments — the equivalent of 74 days a year. Among the companies spending less than the average time chasing customers, legal action and internal recovery processes are the preferred approaches to securing payment. There has also been an increase in the proportion of respondents making use of the European Late Payment Directive. To read Intrum's news release go to https://www.intrum.com/press/news-stories/chasing-late-payments-europe-s-quarter-of-a-trillion-euro-expense/.
Asia: companies experience fewer overdue payments but longer payment delays. Coface's latest Asia Corporate Payment Survey reveals that the share of companies reporting overdue payments fell to 57% in 2022 — the lowest in 10 years — from 64% in 2021. Nevertheless, the duration of payment delays across Asia-Pacific increased markedly, with the average payment delay lengthening from 54 days in 2021 to 67 days. According to Coface’s experience, 80% of overdues longer than six months (ultra-long payment delays/ULPDs) are never paid. Although the survey shows an overall decline in the proportion of respondents experiencing ULPDs exceeding 2% of their annual revenue (falling from 34% in 2021 to 26% in 2022), the situation in Australia was different as the proportion of respondents with such ULPDs expanded from a high level of 56% in 2021 to 63% in 2022. Malaysia also faced a rise in cash flow risk, with the percentage rising from 0% in 2021 to 26%. To read Coface's news release go to https://www.coface.com/News-Publications/News/Asia-companies-experience-fewer-payment-delays-in-our-latest-Survey.
"Payment hypocrisy" is becoming increasingly prevalent among European businesses. According to the findings of Intrum's 2023 European Payment Report, 37% of European businesses admit to paying their suppliers later than they would accept from their own clients and customers. In the UK, this figure rises to 54% — notably higher than France (36%), Germany (36%) and Spain (33%). Although 54% of European businesses would like to pay their suppliers faster, most are not leading by example; "payment hypocrisy" is becoming increasingly prevalent. Intrum's report also reveals that 53% of European businesses will accept longer payment terms than they are comfortable with to avoid damaging client relationships. However, 47% of businesses admitted that they had been forced to accept longer payment terms in the past year to avoid the risk of their clients going bankrupt. To read Intrum's news release go to https://www.intrum.com/press/press-releases/press-release-article/?id=EA03B75D405D8BC6#Dont_do_as_I_do__a_third_of_European_businesses_practice_late_payment_hypocrisy.
Global Economy
Global Economic Outlook — June 2023. Fitch Ratings has raised its forecast for global GDP growth in 2023 to 2.4%, from 2.0% in the March Global Economic Outlook. The biggest upgrades have been to emerging markets (EM), where incoming data have been much stronger than expected. Fitch Ratings has revised up EM ex-China growth for 2023 to 2.9% from 2.0%, with Brazil, India, Mexico and Russia seeing substantive improvements. It has also raised China’s 2023 forecast to 5.6% from 5.2% after a swifter-than-expected reopening rebound in Q1 2023 and has raised its US growth forecast for 2023 to 1.2% from 1.0%. Although Fed tightening is likely to push the US economy into a mild recession, Fitch Ratings notes that the timing of this has been pushed out to Q4 2023 — Q1 2024 and has cut its US growth forecast for 2024 to 0.5% from 0.8%. Eurozone growth forecasts for 2023 and 2024 are unchanged. To read Fitch Ratings' news release go to https://www.fitchratings.com/research/sovereigns/global-economic-outlook-june-2023-21-06-2023.
The return of credit risk: +21% increase in business insolvencies globally. A new Economic Outlook by Allianz Trade estimates that global growth is likely to slow to +2.5% and to stay at +2.3% in 2024, with advanced economies overall set to avoid negative annual growth in 2023 (+1.5% in the US, +0.5% in the Eurozone, +0.2% in the UK) and in 2024 (+0.7% in the US, +1.0% in the Eurozone, +0.5% in the UK). However, business insolvencies are expected to continue increasing globally (+21% y/y), with advanced economies such as Canada, the UK, Denmark, Finland and Switzerland already seeing business insolvencies above pre-pandemic levels. Globally, Allianz Trade warns that this should be the case for one out of two countries by the end of 2023, with the main exceptions in Asia (China, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Singapore), Latam (Brazil) and the US. To read Allianz Trade's report (a presentation is also available) go to https://www.allianz-trade.com/en_global/news-insights/economic-insights/economic-outlook-wall-of-worries.html.
Only Germany and the UK's GDP is still not back to its pre-COVID level in the G7. The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has noted that in Q1 2023, the UK recorded GDP growth of 0.1% compared with the previous quarter (Q4 2022). The US saw growth of 0.5%, while Eurozone GDP fell by 0.1% for the second quarter in a row. UK GDP in Q1 2023 was 0.5% below its pre-pandemic level. Compared to pre-pandemic levels, the US' Q1 2023 GDP was 5.6% above its level in Q4 2019, while Canada was 3.7% above, Italy 2.5% above, Japan 1.6% above and Italy 1.2% above. Only Germany's GDP is, like the UK, still not back to pre-COVID levels. To read the ONS' news release go to https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN02784/SN02784.pdf.
The global economy is moving from a stagflation scenario into a low, positive growth scenario in 2023 and 2024. Atradius' latest Economic Outlook advises that, although the global economic growth is forecast to slow to 2.2% in 2023 from 3.1% in 2022, it is performing better than expected at the start of the year and moving away from a stagflation scenario to low, but positive growth in 2023 and 2024. There are two major reasons for this upgrade. First is China's reopening after the sudden reversal of the zero-COVID policy that happened earlier this year. Second, the US and eurozone economies proved more resilient to 'stagflation’ forces'. Atradius predicts GDP growth across advanced markets will reach 1.0% in 2023, better than the stagnation expected at the beginning of the year — however, growth in 2024 looks set to remain very restrained at 0.9%. GDP growth in emerging market economies is forecast to stay in lower gear at 3.9% this year and 3.8% in 2024. To read Atradius' news release go to https://group.atradius.com/economic-research-economic-outlook-july-2023.html.
G20 GDP growth accelerates to 0.9% in the first quarter of 2023. The OECD has advised that GDP in the G20 area grew by 0.9% quarter-on-quarter in the first quarter of 2023 according to provisional estimates, up from 0.4% in the previous quarter. This acceleration mainly reflected the reopening of the economy in China, where GDP growth picked up to 2.2% compared with 0.6% in the fourth quarter of 2022. The acceleration was also driven by higher growth in India, where GDP rose by 1.9% in Q1 2023, up from 1.0% in Q4 2022. Growth also recovered in Canada, France and Italy. However, despite the acceleration in growth in the G20 area as a whole, Germany entered recession, with GDP continuing to contract (minus 0.3% in Q1 2023, following minus 0.4% in Q4 2022). In Q1 2023, GDP in the G20 area exceeded its pre-pandemic (Q4 2019) level by 7.8%. However, in the UK and Germany, GDP remained below its pre-pandemic levels (by 0.5% in both countries).
 OECD, 2023, G20 GDP Growth - First quarter of 2023, 14 June 2023. OECD, https://www.oecd.org/newsroom/g20-gdp-growth-first-quarter-2023-oecd.htm.
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Events & Professional Development
Asia: Export & Natural Resources Finance 2023, 20-21 September 2023. Singapore.
TXF's largest Asian export, commodities & project finance event returns in September 2023.
Export finance in the region was booming with 2022 seeing the return of international business to Singapore Asia topped the global regional table in the first half of the year. Once again
Meet over 400 borrowers, exporters, project sponsors, developers, financiers, DFIs, government representatives, insurers, law firms, ECAs and more at this all-new networking super-highway! Plus a dedicated CPRI stream.
Special offers available — email marketing@exilegroup.com to enquire.
For more information go to https://www.txfnews.com/events/269/Asia-Export-Natural-Resources-Finance-2023.
Africa 2023: Export & Natural Resources Finance, 24-25 October. The Westin Cape Town, South Africa.
Taking place in October 2023, this is an unmatched opportunity to end the year on a high and start 2024 with new connections, crucial business intelligence insights and get ahead of the competition. Without anything quite like it in the market right now, this unique free offering will bring you the best of all things export, project, commodities & development finance.
Special offers available — email marketing@exilegroup.com to enquire.
For more information go to https://www.txfnews.com/events/272/Africa-2023-Export-Natural-Resources-Finance.
Export & Project Finance Dealmakers Assembly 2023, 21-22 November 2023. Berlin, Germany.
After the resounding success of our seminal event last year, in October 2023, we head to Germany for the highly anticipated second edition of the TXF Export Finance Dealmakers Assembly, a conference turned upside down. The event's primary focus will be on securing those all-important meetings, strengthening ties with existing clients and forging new connections. The Dealmakers Assembly will be a conference like none you've attended before. A completely unique and innovative event format focused on deal origination, networking and meeting rooms galore. Discounts are available on bookings of 2 or more  — email  marketing@exilegroup.com to enquire. For more information go to https://www.txfnews.com/events/270/Export-Project-Finance-Dealmakers-Assembly-2023.
Professional Development
STECIS, the Trade Credit Insurance & Surety Academy endorsed by ICISA and FCI, offers a range of webinars and classroom training courses.
Two webinars are planned in the second half of 2023*:
  • 23rd August 2023: Fundamentals of Trade Credit Insurance
  • 14th September: 2023 Buy now Pay later: Hype or trend?
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 2023 the following classroom courses are scheduled*.
  • 31 October & 1 November: the Trade Credit Insurance Foundation Course
  • 2 & 3 November: the Advanced Trade Credit Insurance Course
  • 31 October & 1 November: the Trade Credit Insurance Foundation Course
  • 2 & 3 November: the Surety Advanced Course
All classroom courses will 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. The courses are hosted by very experienced experts from the industry and there is enough opportunity for asking questions, discussions and networking.
 Also, there is the possibility of arranging in-house training: then there will be created 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.
* Course and Webinars will run on the basis of a minimal number of participants.
About this month's sponsor: STA International
STA International is a cash management solutions company offering UK & International B2B and B2C debt collection and outsourced credit control services.
For commercial and consumer debt collection, we only charge you a commission on the money we collect. It is now more important than ever to minimise your costs by recovering late payment interest, and our collection fees from your B2B debtors, whenever we can. When we do so, you’ll receive your principal debt plus interest, and your debtor will pay our collection costs.
For outsourced credit control clients, STA operates in the clients’ name, providing transparent receivables management, improving cash flow, and saving you additional staffing costs.
What distinguishes STA International is our philosophy of professionalism in cash collection. Our fundamental approach is to obtain full recovery, doing it in a way which preserves customer goodwill, and which tries to educate customers to pay more promptly in the future. Anything less than that is not a total solution to the issue of credit management.
To find out more, please visit www.stainternational.com.
Call Sam Cable on 01622 600921; email sam.cable@staonline.com.
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