2013 Activity Report
JEAN-MARC PILLU Coface CEO
What is your assessment of 2013?
JEAN-MARC PILLU: Coface achieved good results in 2013, with a robust technical performance highlighting the quality of our risk management in a still very fragile economic environment. This performance also shows the success of our operational and financial management over the last three years.
Our commercial growth dynamic is strong, with new business generation up 29% in 2013, a positive factor for the current financial year. In 2013, we implemented our new product and services strategy, with the deployment of TopLiner and our Coface Global Solutions offering, and the launch of work on innovative services that will hit the market in 2014 and 2015.
In a difficult economic environment, how have you managed to maintain profitability and the level of insurance cover offered to customers?
J-M.P: From an operational standpoint, 2013 was a challenging year given the large number of business insolvencies, particularly in Europe. Against that background, we have kept our loss ratio under control, demonstrating the effectiveness of measures taken over the last 2 years to transition through the period while maintaining our results and keeping costs stable. Above all, to meet the needs of our customers, we maintained our overall level of insured receivables.
How has Coface changed over the past 3 years?
J-M.P: Since 2011, in the framework of our strategic plan “Strong Commitment”, we have improved our operational performance and restored the solid fundamentals of our core credit insurance business. This has led us to focus more keenly on supporting our customers, by providing them with solid coverage and the most relevant advice possible. We have also introduced a new form of governance based on geographic regions. In 2013, we completed the Group’s internal reorganisation,
generating economies of scale. Placing underwriting “close to the risk” has resulted in an improvement in the quality of our services and our response times. I note in this respect that our customers are satisfied with our efforts, since our client retention rate increased by two percentage points in 2013 compared with the previous year.
What are your ambitions for 2014? How are you going to consolidate your strategy?
J-M.P: Operationally and financially sound, our group is preparing with confidence and enthusiasm for the proposed Initial Public Offering (IPO) which could take place in the first half of 2014, subject to market conditions. We are also continuing work already underway to enrich and expand our offer, in particular to SMEs, and to win market share by adopting an ambitious marketing approach.
How will you seize opportunities for growth?
J-M.P: Our global presence enables us both to intervene in high-growth markets and to seize opportunities in more mature markets. To move forward, we will drive innovation, with the ramping up of products we started to market in 2012, and the launch of new offerings to meet changing customer needs and to increase the penetration rate of credit insurance worldwide. We will also deploy a multichannel distribution system, led by a strengthened sales force organisation. A business intelligence task force regularly analyses the potential of countries in which the Group is not yet present, in order to identify priorities for development in the short, medium and long term. Between now and the end of 2018 we plan to expand our presence to around ten new countries, the potential of which has been identified both from the marketing and business standpoints.
We will implement our strategy with the constant aim of supporting companies in their development and making their trade safe, which is the corner-stone of Coface employees’ know-how and expertise worldwide. Too few businesses know and use credit insurance: our teams can help them realise the benefits of doing so.