CRS News

Nexus Broking Division Xenia Acquires Trade Credit business from Howden UK

Insurance intermediary holding company Nexus Group (“Nexus”) today announces that its independent broking arm, Xenia Broking Group (“Xenia”), has entered into an agreement to acquire the trade credit business of Howden UK Group Limited (“Howden”), one of the UK’s most prominent insurance intermediaries, with a specialist trade credit broking business based in Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester and Cardiff.

The transaction will complete on 31 March 2020 following which Xenia will integrate Howden’s trade credit business with its regulated entity Credit Risk Solutions Limited (“CRS”).

Tim Coles, CEO of Xenia, said: “This is an exciting and complementary acquisition for us and will form an integral part of Xenia going forward. The fact that a business of the quality of Howden has agreed that Xenia is the right home for its trade credit business further supports our strategy to build the leading independent trade credit broking business. We are delighted to welcome Stuart and his team into the group and very much look forward to, together, exceeding our clients’ expectations for service and results.”

Chris Evans, CEO of Howden UK, added: ‘Xenia is clearly now the leading independent trade credit intermediary in the UK and I compliment Tim and the Xenia team on what they have achieved. Whilst Howden will now concentrate on our highly successful global trade credit, surety and political risks business, I am confident our UK regional trade credit customers and trade credit experts will benefit from the specialist proposition presented by Xenia. Xenia and Howden will continue to work in close partnership.”

Stuart Grice, Head of Trade Credit, Howden UK added: “I am very excited that our team is partnering with Xenia to deliver best-in-class products and services to our clients. Our culture which is underpinned by independence and entrepreneurship makes this an ideal fit. Our initial focus post acquisition will be on ensuring a smooth transition for our business and team, and a seamless continuation of trading for all existing and new clients, and insurers.”

Stuart Grice will become Client Service Director, North West and Scotland for Xenia post completion.

CRS Sponsors WPBSA UK Seniors Snooker Championship

Credit Risk Solutions will be the title sponsor for the forthcoming UK Seniors Snooker Championship in Hull. The event takes place at the Bonus Arena, Hull from Tuesday 23rd to Thursday 25th October.

Some of the greatest names in the sport – including Stephen Hendry, Jimmy White and Dennis Taylor – will be competing for the title.

If clients or underwriters are interested in attending please contact CRS.

CRS and GMCC Collaboration

CRS and the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce (GMCC) have announced a new partnership. GMCC was awarded Chamber of the year for 2017/18 and will work closely with CRS to advise and assist businesses who want to grow sales and mitigate the risk of non-payment. Read more here

Many thanks to Lucy Mulligan and her team for such a warm welcome and supporting our integration in to their Partnership Program.

New Recruits

CRS are pleased to announce that our latest recruit Phil Holbrough has joined us in our Halifax office. Phil brings a wealth of credit management experience across a range of industries and will be responsible for managing and growing a portfolio of clients.

We are also delighted to welcome Amanda Pilkington who joins our Midland office having previously worked as a Compliance Manager in the retail sector. Amanda forms part of our sales team

Manchester Office Expands

Following continued growth of our Manchester book we have relocated the office to more spacious surroundings on 10th Floor of Chancery Place.

CRS Claims Statistics – Q1 2018

An analysis of the claims experience for CRS clients during Q1 2018, compared to the same period in 2017, shows a 103% increase in the average claim amount; an 85% increase in the cumulative value of claims submitted, but a reduction in the volume of claims received by 9%. This demonstrates the challenges of managing credit exposure in a heightened risk environment, where the size and speed of corporate insolvency is increasing. Credit insurance clearly has a critical role to play in continuing to protect short-term cash and longer-term profitability.

CRS – A New Chapter

London, October 25, 2017: Leading independent specialty Managing General Agent Nexus Group today announces that it has acquired Credit Risk Solutions Ltd (CRS).

Established in 2003, CRS is a leading independent specialist Trade Credit broker operating from offices in Halifax, Manchester and Birmingham. CRS will continue to be led by its founding shareholders Mike Clark, Hayden Tennant and Lisa Humphries and will importantly remain an open market broker, independent of the underwriting operations of the Nexus Group. The deal will allow CRS to accelerate its growth via the acquisition of strategic targets in the regional broking market.

Post-acquisition, Sue Morley will join the CRS board as a Non-Executive Director. Sue recently retired from her role as Client Services Director of Nexus CIFS, and has extensive experience in the Trade Credit broking world having previously been branch director of the London office during her 10 years at Aon Trade Credit.

Colin Thompson, Founder and Executive Chairman of Nexus, said:
"CRS is a very professionally run business that has been on a steep growth trajectory in recent years. We are excited to work with Mike, Hayden, Lisa and the whole CRS team to continue this success story in a market where we have a lot of expertise, and accelerate this growth via a buy and build strategy of regional Trade Credit brokers as well as add another UK regional footprint to our existing UK and international infrastructure. In Nexus EBA, the group already has a Lloyd’s broker and this acquisition strengthens its broking offering and the diversified range of market leading proprietary products on offer. This is the fourth acquisition Nexus has completed during a busy and transformational year."

Following this acquisition, in 2017 the Nexus Group are now on track to deliver an actual EBITDA in excess of £10 million, a run rate EBITDA in excess of £12 million and a pro-forma EBITDA in excess of £14 million”

Mike Clark Co-Founder of CRS, commented:
"This is an exciting opportunity for the CRS team. Nexus has identified credit insurance as a product area with considerable potential. We share that vision and, with their support and investment, are absolutely committed to growing this market."

Astreos Global Meeting

Mike Clark, Roger Johnson and Michele Horner recently attended the Astreos Global Meeting, this year hosted by Atradius in Amsterdam. Attendees came from all over the world including Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, South Africa, Mexico and Vietnam. A consistent theme throughout Astreos is that, against a background of fierce underwriter competition, the Group continues to gain market share and win new business. Astreos is a great success story – a true collaboration that allows our multinational clients to leverage purchasing power and enjoy exceptional local service.

Timber – Euler Hermes Comment

UK softwood prices fell by around 20% in 2015 and there is no sign of upward movement in 2016 as yet. The issue is not one of demand as activity levels are generally holding up, with price pressure reflecting the fact that timber is a global commodity and therefore events outside of our sphere of influence ultimately determine price. This is of course frustrating for importers and merchants who want/need to be generating more profit, but will have a benefit to end user customers. Foreign exchange movements have significant influence, currently making Swedish timber more competitive in addition to UK home grown. As always there are winners and losers when market dynamics change.

At Euler Hermes, we keep a close eye on timber company margins and stock levels, particularly when prices fall as there is a risk that the holding stock value plummets. The difficult decision is then whether to sell at a loss and generate cash or hold onto stock in the hope that prices recover. Also, what view to take on further purchases in a falling market and what is the impact to working capital. Each decision is a challenging one and represents risk, which is where a strong management team comes into its own. We therefore allocate significant time and resource to visiting timber companies to make sure that we assess all aspects of the business, from shareholders/investors/management, to customers/suppliers, market dynamics, banking arrangements/debt obligations, as well as financial performance and forecasts of course. We do this so that our clients don't have to.

2015 was a year of surprises for timber related insolvencies. We saw the failure of Associated Timber Services in March, a profitable company with a £2m positive balance sheet. CF Anderson Timber Products went into administration, a 150 year old business - illustrating that there is always a limit to family support to an underperforming entity.

We closed with the insolvency of £130m turnover Leaderflush Shapland/Interiors Manufacturing group in December, following some significant and fairly recent external investment into the business. The timber sector was also heavily impacted by fall-out from construction sector insolvencies including PC Harrington, Southdale and Crestel Partnerships amongst others.

Euler Hermes data shows that timber sector overdue payments are generally reducing, depending on the sub-sector of the market. Agents saw a 17% reduction in late payment reports comparing Q2 and Q3 2015, whilst joinery companies saw a 5% increase in late payment reports for the same period. For comparison, construction sector overdues are relatively static quarter on quarter but reflect a massive 44% increase on the same period last year.

Winter is traditionally a challenging period for seasonal timber companies and we are monitoring payment trends with interest as Q1 and Q4 typically represent a peak time for sector failures as cash-flow can dry up very quickly.

Marc Sorci

CRS was delighted to welcome Marc Sorci for a two week visit in February. Through our Astreos connections we've already collaborated with Marc on a number of multinational credit insurance programmes.

Marc is keen to improve his English and 'immerse himself' in the culture of CRS. With this in mind Steve Hirst and Mike Clark felt it important to introduce him to les fish and chips, avec mushy peas of course.

Having been tutored at length by Mike and Steve (haddock in preference to cod, mushy pea preparation, application/quantity of salt and vinegar etc) Marc is certainly a newfound fan of this most English of dishes, 'The fish and chips in Halifax are very, very good' he says, 'much better than London fish and chips which made my wife and daughter ill.'

Marc is pictured at the Lodge Fish and Chip Shop, Halifax which is highly recommended by Mike and Steve.

Manchester office

We are delighted to announce the opening of our new Manchester office, headed up by Sam Hibbs.

An increasing number of credit insurers have chosen Manchester as their northern hub. The new office is right at the heart of this 'square quarter mile' and allows for more face to face meetings with underwriters.

At a launch event Sam Hibbs told underwriters "Over the last 11 years CRS has come a long way and I'm very excited about the new Manchester office. It's a great opportunity for all of us and we look forward to working with you in growing our book of business in the North West."

Brian Coleman

We are all saddened to say goodbye to our friend and colleague, Brian Coleman. In April 2015 Brian was diagnosed with Viral Encephalitis, a very rare condition that causes inflammation of the brain. The recovery process is ongoing but Brian has taken the decision to retire early. All of us at CRS wish him well.

Brian joined CRS in January 2012, continuing a career spanning 30 years as a credit insurance broker in the north of England. He started work, however, within the motor insurance business of the Co-operative Insurance Society in Manchester before joining John Reynolds as a credit insurance broker, progressing to divisional director. He joined Jardine Credit Insurance in charge of their Manchester office in 1992 and stayed with the same organisation through several ownership changes for 20 years. At CRS Brian’s meticulous attention to detail was renown. The commitment shown to his clients was much appreciated by them.

In our Halifax office Brian’s desk drawers were a well stocked repository of tempting chocolates and biscuits – effectively he was steward of the ‘CRS Tuck Shop’ and our calorie intake has reduced significantly during his absence through illness.

Susan, the other half of the ‘Coleman team’ remains with CRS of course and through her we will continue to see Brian. He will also be guest of honour at our 2015 Christmas party.

Peter Jones recommends credit insurance

Recently interviewed on BBC Radio 2's Chris Evans Show (18 July), Peter Jones, of Dragon's Den fame, commented that his biggest mistake was not to take out credit insurance when a computer services company he established suffered a series of bad debts.

"I failed to look after the most important thing which was the assets of the other words I didn’t take out credit insurance. I was supplying people with products in the late 1980’s and when the recession hit, it hit those companies which in turn hit me. I lost everything….it was a very big lesson to learn".

"My advice to small and medium sized businesses, particularly in these tough conditions, is to tighten up on your financial controls, check your customer's credit rating, always agree terms in writing, invoice promptly, never be afraid to chase late payments and take out credit insurance."

CRS hosts an annual pilgrimage to Blackpool for our underwriting partners

Now in its ninth year and universally recognised in our market as a 'hot ticket'.

Prior to watching the BetVictor World Matchplay Darts Championship at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, tradition dictates that an 'Indoor League' pool and darts tournament is held. This year's winner, and recipient of the CRS Tankard, is Steven Stennett of Coface.

Astreos blog featuring interview with Mike Clark, Co-founder and Director of CRS

Click here

CRS Case Study

The insurer, UK Export Finance, has chosen to use a risk placed by CRS on behalf of Houlder Ltd as a case study.
Click here to download the details.

10th anniversary

On 20 November, 2013, Credit Risk Solutions celebrated its 10th anniversary (and 10 years of consecutive growth) at Dean Clough, Halifax with 100 guests from the trade credit insurance underwriters, many of whom had travelled many miles for the occasion. In a short presentation, Mike, Hayden and Lisa thanked them for all the help and support that CRS had received over the last decade, without which CRS would not be in the healthy position it now finds itself. CRS is looking forward to the next 10 years with confidence and eager anticipation.

CRS Executive Board

With effect from 1 January 2014 the following colleagues will sit on a newly formed CRS Executive Board:

  • Susan Coleman
  • Sam Hibbs
  • Steve Hirst
  • Roger Johnson
  • Mark Rhodes
  • Mark Whiteley

Reporting to Mike Clark, Hayden Tennant and Lisa Humphries the Executive Board will assume responsibility for day-to-day operational matters. The remit also includes development of strategies to continue and accelerate the growth of CRS over the coming years.

We would like to take the opportunity to congratulate our colleagues on their promotion.