Atradius, one of the leading credit insurance firms, is to increase cover to UK companies.

The change in position is likely to provide welcome relief for hard-pressed retailers, some of whom have battled to survive after the removal or reduction of coverage.

Fashion, footwear and furniture firms are among those likely to benefit from the new stance, which Atradius said is likely to “facilitate” more than £1bn of extra trade in the coming months.

The trade insurer, which has a 31% global market share, said that the provision of greater cover followed “improvements in the sourcing of up-to-date financials enabling [the identification of] those companies which are performing well within their sector despite the economic downturn and continued slump in bank lending”.

Atradius said it would contact customers alerting them to the change of stance, including some whose previous applications for cover were unsuccessful.

Atradius UK and Ireland director Shaun Purrington said: “For some time we have stated that cover would increase if we could see improvements in the sharing of information by businesses.

“We are delighted to have seen a significant shift in business practices to this effect.”

Among the retailers hit by withdrawal or reduction of credit insurance have been Woolworths and First Quench, owner of Threshers, which both collapsed.