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Monday, 16 February 2009

The end of the line for greetings cards

My son doesn't "do cards", nor do his peer group. Using MSN, Facebook, Skype is much quicker, contemporary and cool. Mind you he has to buy at least a mothers day card if he wants to keep her sweet.

He is 15 and his generation will not be rushing into card shops, for birthdays, anniversaries, get well cards etc the way older generations did. Coupled with the price of a card, the postage and the fact that one has to plan ahead, to make sure the card arrives on the big day, I think the end, or a slow death, may be nigh for this once fast growing sector.

With 1,000+ shops the question must be a pressing one for Clinton Cards plc. Coupled with the recession and fast rising unemployment how long before their sales collapse? It's hardly a critical purchase is it a greeting card, unlike food or travel to work.

I understand from the Sunday Times that Clintons were in close contact with their bankers last week over a £72m debt pile. Clintons may be next for administration and or a company voluntary arrangement.

How bad will this depression be?

It's remarkable to look back to the days, not so long ago, when German politicians were commenting on the UK's credit crunch problems, now that Germany's own economy has entered a sharp slowdown. The news that its economy contracted at an annual rate of 8.4% in the fourth quarter is way beyond the falls in the UK so far. If Deutsche Bank is to be believed, the economy will have shrunk by nearly 9% before the end of 2009!

Japan is worse, its fourth quarter GDP numbers fell 3.3%, this is the sharpest economic decline since 1974 when oil prices quadrupled for a non-oil producing country. Forecasters expect Japan's economy to shrink by 12.7% this year. These are startling numbers.

Two of the world's largest 3 economies shrinking at or around 10% per year ? With a global economy its impossible for this contagion not to hit most other countries.

I now expect the UK economy to decline more than 5% this year and this will seem relatively benign compared to Japan, Germany, Spain, France, Ireland and probably the rest of Europe.

Having just got used to the "recession" word are we soon to use the word "depression" ?

Why has all this come about? Bankers taking bonuses? Not in my view.

Having talked to and met over 750 businesses in the last 6 months we can say that the fall in sales experienced by most, was so savage and so sudden in Q4 last year, that they were stunned.

There can be only one explanation for a sharp slump in sales across a myriad of business types - FEAR.

Are we all worried that the powers that be seem to have no "power" to deal with this slump? Perhaps this is why business people stop placing orders for new equipment, cars, trucks, vans, printing presses, servers, PC's, buildings, marketing and advertising spend and on it goes. A wait and see approach to business decision making in effect mirrors dilly-dallying of governments on the other route cause - most of the banking sector is INSOLVENT.

Until we address this and deal with the necessary restructure of the banks, we will not see fear replaced by optimism.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Testimonial from a KSA CompanyRescue Client

Simple message today from one of our clients; CVA is a great tool, they are delighted with our work! So what's different ?

Alex Rabbetts is the MD of a company called TA Migration Solutions Ltd. He WANTS us to publish his name, company name and thank you email. Hopefully, he says, other people will see this and consider the tool.

Hi Keith

This is a short note to say thank you to you and your excellent team for helping us achieve a CVA. The service that you provide is, frankly, unbelievable! Having realised that our company was in trouble, it took me some time to work out that we needed help ... fast. A Google search for “Company in Trouble” brought up and, having clicked on the link, I ended up on your website. The information on your website is informative, helpful and comprehensive. It was with some trepidation that I decided to call – having reached one of the lowest points.

My first call was with Philippa (Samaritan!). Philippa made me feel that there was hope, that it wasn’t all my fault (even though I knew that some of it was!) and that, by careful management there might be a way out.

Next Hugh Gabriel (Counsellor!) came to visit and, having spent several hours listening to my problems and assessing whether there was a real prospect of recovery, he recommended that a CVA would be appropriate.

Ian Campbell (Master!) prepared a proposal to support our company through and into the process of a CVA. At first I felt that we had ‘no option’ if we were to survive (and we didn’t!), but very quickly I realised that a CVA is a good thing. The CVA enables us to re-structure, to re-think and to put together a plan for long term survival that should, if followed well, make us a much stronger and more profitable company than ever before.

I didn’t come to this conclusion alone though – firstly there was Annette Breakspear (Saint!!) who tirelessly and patiently guided me through the process. Annette gave advice, support and sometimes humour throughout the entire process and never once got bored of me asking the same question over and over, or worrying her with my woes. Annette helped me through every step of the way and was at all times ... brilliant!

Finally, of course, there is yourself, Keith (King!). Your advice and support and your expert knowledge cannot, I am sure, be paralleled. It is only through your support and knowledge that we would ever have got this far.

We would never, ever have got through the last few months without the knowledge, support and guidance that KSA Company Rescue provides. Your fees are incredibly reasonable for the service that you provide and the knowledge and expertise second to none. Thank you to all of your team for being so brilliant!

If every you have anyone who wants to talk to a reference client, maybe someone who wants to know what to expect from you, or just a plain old reference, come to me – I will have no hesitation what-so-ever in recommending KSA Company Rescue as the best service for companies needing help ... anywhere!

Kind regards

Alex Rabbetts
TA Migration Solutions Ltd
7 Whyteleafe Business Village
Whyteleafe Hill
Whyteleafe, Surrey CR3 0AT

Tel: +44(0)845 251 2255
Fax: +44(0)845 251 2266

Email: outbind://17-00000000070AC1A78D7F5041906AAE9CA4ABF5630700B573FA38DB5B804BAF224807EB5F9A87000000001AC00000407C334F9DC68B4E9297DD84D6F3B48E000000BE90E40000/

TA Migration Solutions Ltd, registered in Cardiff under number 4410342
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