More businesses in the Brussels region filed for bankruptcy in September last year that a year before, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the month just ended, 159 businesses went bust, 12.8% more than September 2020, according to figures from financial services consultant Graydon. The increase is all the more remarkable placed beside the year-on-year changes in Flanders (-11.1%) and Wallonia (-26.4%). In the country as a whole, there were 10.9% fewer bankruptcies.
The pandemic came as some relief to struggling business. There was a huge outpouring of official support measures, for example allowing workers to go on temporary unemployment and be paid by the state rather than the business.
But that does not explain why Brussels should show such a change of fortunes when the other regions go in the opposite direction. The pandemic affected everyone more or less equally.
As well as state support, businesses enjoyed a rather more flexible approach from banks and other financial institutions, who preferred not to be seen as taking a scythe to companies already suffering.
“As long as they remain reticent with regard to the summons for bankruptcy (an attitude that we expect to be maintained at least until the end of this year) and the granting of payment deferrals, we expect a continued low level of bankruptcies,” Graydon said in the report.
The report also reveals that despite regional differences, the figures are also going up in East Flanders, Leuven and in Walloon-Brabant province.