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Unreliable customers cause difficulties for European companies
European companies are feeling the effects of poor payment practices | In Spain and Greece, customers are paying more punctually than in 2012 |Germany imposes the shortest payment terms |Economic situation is main reason for late payments

Hamburg, 27 July 2013 – The majority of European companies are suffering from the poor payment practices of their customers. Around 60 per cent have had to deal with problems in the past arising from delays and defaults in payment. The companies were primarily affected by profit setbacks and cash flow problems. These are the findings of the EOS ‘European Payment Practices’ survey 2013, in which market research institute Ipsos polled 2,600 decision-makers in 12 European countries for the sixth year in a row.

According to the results, on average 74.8 per cent of Europeans pay their bills on time. Polish (70%), Greek (70.2%) and British (70.2%) customers are the least reliable, while Germans (79.6%) and Russians (78.3%) are the most punctual payers.

‘It is interesting that Greece and Spain, the European countries giving most cause for concern during the financial crisis, were able to substantially improve their figures,’ says Hans-Werner Scherer, CEO of the EOS Group. In Spain, the proportion of on-time payments increased from 69.6 (2012) to 76.9 per cent in 2013, and in Greece from 66.4 to 70.2 per cent. ‘Hopefully this is an indication that the trend in these countries is heading in the right direction and that the worst of the economic crisis has been overcome.’

A further sign of this is that all over Europe, companies are imposing much stricter conditions on their customers for payment transactions, such as the payment deadlines agreed on: Although Greek (65 days) and Spanish companies (51 days) allow their customers the longest payment terms, these have been reduced by 3 and 15 days respectively compared with 2012. At 18 days, German companies impose the shortest payment terms in Europe. On the whole, payment terms have been reduced on average from 35 to 32 days. This trend is particularly evident in Western Europe, where companies now allow their customers almost seven days less to pay their invoices compared with 2012.

The reasons given by respondents for late payment or non-payment by private individuals in particular were the general economic situation, current cash flow problems and excessive debt. In the case of business customers, payment defaults by their own clients also played a role. ‘This sets off a chain reaction,’ says Scherer, ‘because if one does not pay then it puts pressure on the next one. They in turn get into difficulties and in the worst case cannot pay their own service providers and suppliers.’

In Eastern Europe in particular, companies also expect negative consequences in the future as a result of poor payment practices: about three quarters of them anticipate problems in the coming years, especially cash flow difficulties and profit setbacks.

In Eastern Europe in particular, companies also expect negative consequences in the future as a result of poor payment practices: about three quarters of them anticipate problems in the coming years, especially cash flow difficulties and profit setbacks.

About the EOS Survey 2013: ‘European Payment Practices’:
In the spring of 2013, on behalf of the EOS Group, market research institute Ipsos polled 2,600 executives from 12 European countries about the payment practices in their respective nations. 200 decision-makers from companies in each of the countries Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and Spain, and 400 in Germany, answered questions about their payment experiences, economic developments in their countries and issues relating to risk and receivables management. Further results from the survey are available online.

The EOS Group
The EOS Group is one of the leading international providers of customized financial services. Its core business is receivables management. With its workforce of more than 9000, EOS provides security through customized services for its approximately 20,000 customers in 27 countries worldwide through more than 51 subsidiaries. Together with an international network of partner companies, the EOS Group offers its customers resources in 140 countries on all continents. Its key target sectors are banking, insurance, utilities, telecommunications and IT companies.

More information.

Contact:

Laya Moghaddam, Public Relations Consultant
tel.: +49 40 2850-1997
email: l.moghaddam@eos-solutions.com

Berit Ewald, Team Manager Corporate Communications
tel.: +49 40 2850-1566
email: b.ewald@eos-solutions.com

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