Retail threatened by credit ‘crisis’

The UK High Street is battling to prevent a nationwide games stock shortage – as credit insurers cut cover against the industry’s biggest retailers.

MCV understands that credit insurers including Atradius, Coface and Euler Hermes have slashed cover on stock sold in to some retailers – including Toys R Us, Blockbuster, Comet and outlets owned by DSGi, such as PC World, Dixons and Currys – following a New Year review.

That leaves publishers and platform holders – still reeling from credit insurance being swept away from Woolworths and EUK last year – in the tricky position of dealing with hugely reduced credit limits or on cash terms with the chains.

At least two publishers have reduced or cut off stock supply from some of the troubled retailers, MCV understands – with others warning of alarm bells” for their sales teams.

The UK boss of one top ten publisher told us: After the Christmas boom, everybody worries. We’re not planning at the minute for a disaster – these retailers all have an offering you can’t get elsewhere on the High Street. But the bolts have tightened on the credit limit we give them.”

The sales chief of another publisher added: It’s getting ridiculous – who’s left to sell to if you can’t get credit on this lot? GAME and the supermarkets. Alarm bells are starting to ring. It couldn’t come at a worse time after Woolworths, EUK and Zavvi’s collapse.”

However, the founder of a key trade business called for calm when contacted by MCV.

He said: The Woolworths situation has given publishers the jitters. But this doesn’t necessarily mean others are about to go pop. It’s blatant that the credit insurance guys want to get out of our industry and focus on dog food and shoes."

Comet and DSGi both told MCV that the reduction in credit insurance hadn’t affected trading with suppliers. Toys R Us and Blockbuster could not comment when contacted.

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