Three out of four Belgian SMEs are “in good shape”. However, they are hesitant to invest, in particular because of political insecurity. This emerges from the annual report on SMEs by Graydon, the Union for the Middle Classes and UNIZO (representing the self-employed and SMEs).
All three organisations stressed in a communiqué,“SMEs emerged the strongest from the downturn. Their asset and capital values increased, their invoices were paid quicker and they are now better armed against economic shocks.” The organisations said that only 12% of Belgian SMEs risk disappearing, which is the best result for a full ten years.
SMEs are also more financially independent than before the crisis.
The fact that these businesses have greater means is obviously good news. Nevertheless, “maintaining more liquid assets is not very profitable,” Eric Van den Broele, one of the Graydon researchers warned. He added the money should really be invested but many SMEs “dare not be driven by an active investment strategy.”
These hesitations result from political uncertainty, in particular as regards tax reforms, flagged up the boss of Unizo, Karel Van Eetvelt.
Lastly, by region, the Walloon and Flemish SMEs have done better than Brussels equivalents. In Brussels 22.1% are a financial position where they are at risk of bankruptcy, compared to a little above 10% for companies in the other two regions. The report says, “Many of these PME were already in danger prior to the attacks. Brussels businesses should be more structurally assisted and supported.”
The survey interviewed businesses with less than 50 workers. In 2015, Belgium had 1,067,240 such businesses, of which nearly half were less than 10 years old.