Blackfriar: From recovery position, CPP is marching back to health

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Three years ago credit card protection firm CPP looked like a basket case.

A £10.5m ​fine by the Financial Conduct Authorit​y for mis-selling insurance products in 2012 left the group on the skids, but a renaissance could be under way under the guidance of executive chairman Eric Anstee.

This week the York-based firm announced a return to underlying profit in 2014 after a difficult few years.

The group reported ​an underlying operating profit of £500,000 in 2014​, up from a £1.8m loss in 2013, and said the worst is now behind it.

The loss for the year from continuing and discontinued operations fell from £33m to £7m.

As part of its renaissance, CPP is looking beyond the world of wallets to a future where people use modern technology to pay for things rather than cash and plastic.

In order to make this digital leap possible CPP is investing in a new IT system and has chosen Halifax-based SSP to provide a single platform IT system across the 13 countries it operates in.

CPP said the new​ ​system will support the group’s focus on digital technology, while ensuring the business operates more efficiently.

As part of this digital step forward, CPP is looking to expand its mobile phone cover as more people use their smart phones to shop online.

The aim is to protect customers when their mobile is lost or stolen.

Mr Anstee said: “The future is digital. This business was founded on insurance on wallets and keys. Now we’re in a digital age. The wallet is moving on to a mobile phone. Increasingly, people are worried about identity protection on the internet. Equally, more and more financial transactions are being done over the mobile.”

The idea is CPP will provide similar protection if people lose their mobile as when they lose their wallet, but Mr Anstee said expansion is some 12 months down the line as first of all the group needs to ensure its digital platform is fully up to speed.

The company admits that it still faces challenges and risks and further action is required before the business ​“​achieves its full potential​”​.​ ​

“We’ve stabilised the business financially and we are now making sure people are properly incentivised and managed. Now we need to get people behind the growth agenda,” said Mr Anstee.

CPP is rightly making sure it can walk before it runs.

The next step will be to appoint a new CEO to replace Brent Escott, who helped the group improve its performance after a troubled period.

Mr Escott was the right man to work with the regulators and bail the group out, but now it has returned to health CPP needs someone with expertise in the digital arena to take the group forward. After years of hardship, CPP’s employees are looking forward to taking a new pride in their company.

The latest news from Asda that families are £16 better off a week will be very welcome for the supermarket sector.

The big four – Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons – are struggling to compete with the likes of discounters Aldi and Lidl, which have slashed prices and stolen customers.

According to Asda’s latest research, the price of Easter eggs will be 10 per cent cheaper this year.

Such a move is long overdue. Easter egg prices are still a rip-off even when they’re 10 per cent cheaper.

A typical hollow Cadbury’s egg sells for around £1.40 per 100g in the big four supermarkets, yet Cadbury’s chocolate costs half this much at 75p per 100g in Tesco, Asda and Morrisons.

Yes, there is an extra charge for packaging, but twice the cost?

The leading supermarkets have been allowed to get away with charging high prices because they measured themselves on what their rivals were doing.

It was a gentlemen’s club agreement and it has done us all a service that Aldi and Lidl came in and smashed it.